November is awareness month for lung, pancreatic and stomach cancers, and marrow transplants. It also honors caregivers, hospice and palliative care of people with cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths because of its rapid growth and inability to detect in its early stages. Most cases of pancreatic cancer are advanced, meaning surgical removal often isn’t possible.
Stomach cancer, uncommon in the United States, can also be referred to ask gastric cancer, both terms most often refer to stomach cancer that affects the inside lining of the stomach, adenocarcinoma.
Caregiving for a loved one with cancer can be a full-time job. The medical, emotional and practical support that caregivers provide are a constant reminder of hope for a person with cancer.
by Gail Hamm, program director
I just had to share an experience I had last week as I took part in our new Tai Chi class. I had an idea of what it would be like, but I did not anticipate that I would like it so much.
First, you have to know that I do not like to exercise. I get bored, as well as challenged by shortness of breath. What I found was that I could actually follow the instructor, Susan Swardenski, and do the moves she demonstrated. They are soft and slow and designed to not strain the body. I did know I was getting a workout, however, because I had to remove my jacket when I became too warm. And breathing deeply at times caused a bit of lightheadedness. My body was probably shocked that it was finally getting the oxygen it needed!
Susan explained that Tai Chi is rooted in the martial arts. The moves are designed to keep the body balanced and promote increased body awareness by engaging the mind as well as the body. It’s not like other exercise I am familiar with, in that it is not about building muscle mass. It’s about promoting better health through movement, no matter what your abilities may be. It tends to decrease tension and can increase one’s ability to manage fatigue and pain.
There were 14 of us….. people with cancer, caregivers, and staff. Only a few had previously been in a Tai Chi class. We were of all ages and our abilities varied considerably…from people who moved fairly easily to those who chose to do all the exercises in a seated position.
I can’t wait for the next session of Tai Chi. By participating in this class, I hope to gain better balance, an increased lung capacity, and overall better health. Now it’s time to practice the home work we were given last week: …breathe slowly…in….and …. out …..in….and….out….in….and….out…..
Founded in 1944, CancerCare is a national nonprofit organization that provides free, professional support services to anyone affected by cancer, including people with cancer, caregivers, children, loved ones, and the bereaved. CancerCare programs are provided by professional oncology social workers and are completely free of charge. Last year, the organization provided individual help to more than 100,000 people, in addition to the more than 1 million unique visitors to its website: www.cancercare.org.
Through its website, you can gain access to counseling, support groups, publications, financial assistance, therapeutic activities, special events information and Connect Education Workshops. We’d like to draw attention two upcoming workshops:
Understanding and Managing Chemotherapy Side Effects, Friday, January 21, 2011, 1:30-2:30PM Eastern Time.
Caring for Your Bones When You Have Breast Cancer: What’s New? Friday, February 11, 2011, 1:30-2:30PM Eastern Time.
You can listen to these workshop online or via telephone.
There are two ways to register:
Call 1-800-813-HOPE (4673) or online at www.cancercare.org/connect.
You can also view a full schedule of Connect Workshops at www.cancercare.org/connect.
We are constantly looking for better ways to meet the needs of our clients and caregivers. Whether you are looking for a group of people with whom to share your cancer and treatment concerns and ask questions, or whether you have been told to exercise and are looking for a program that is helpful but not strenuous, check out what we have to offer.
Also, remember that hours are expanding starting January 10: open Mondays from 9:00AM until 7:00PM. Tuesday-Friday open from 9:00AM until 5:00PM.
Examples of new and revised programs for 2011:
- Tai Chi ..a 6 weeks movement program…. helps with relaxation and pain management. Starts Wednesday, January 5 at 5:30PM. Call to reserve your spot. Susan Swardenski facilitates.
- re-Energize! …an exercise program for people of any ability…restarts Tuesday February 1 and meets every Tue & Thursday at 6:00PM. Courtney Berger facilitates.
- The Whipple Group is changing its name to Pancreas, Gall Bladder, Bile Duct Cancer Support Group. The name better describes who the group is for and expands the number of people eligible. Whipple is the name of a surgical technique often used with these types of cancers, but not everyone with one of these diagnoses actually undergoes the Whipple procedure. Meets 3rd Wednesday at 6:30PM. Amy Solaro-Geraghty facilitates.
- Reminder of a general cancer support group: Turning Points. Meets 2nd Tuesday monthly at 5:30PM. Peter Albertson facilitates.
- Caring Touch massage program. Call to schedule an appointment.
All the above groups meet in the Healing Arts Center of Cancer Services, 6316 Mutual Drive, Fort Wayne, IN 46825.
- The South Side Group …a NEW general cancer support group…for those people with any kind of cancer ( and their caregivers) who are looking for a support group on the south side of town. Meets at Lutheran Life Villages, 6701 S Anthony Blvd., entrance under the portico. Meets 3rd Wednesday each month, 6:30PM-8:00PM starting January 19. Helen Claire Ferguson facilitates.
Some of our cancer-specific support groups have disbanded, so we encourage individuals interested in attending a support group to try one of our general cancer support groups.
Please call Gail Hamm at 484-9560 or 866-484-9560 if you have any questions about these or other programs offered by Cancer Services or if there are other programs you would like Cancer Services to offer.
by Dianne May, president & CEO
It happened again. A woman came in yesterday to learn about Cancer Services. She lost her husband a little over two years ago and she is working to make peace with their cancer journey and what has become the new normal in her life.
As our outreach coordinator, Linda, showed her around the building and explained the help and support that is available, a small tear rolled down her cheek. She said no one told them about Cancer Services when they needed it. She saw the warehouse and remembered the precious time she spent finding and figuring out what kind of equipment she needed to make him comfortable at home. She lamented that she didn’t have someone to talk with; someone to whom she could pour out all the emotions swirling inside her. She asked aloud why no one told them about Cancer Services.
There are lots of explanations. Sometimes the focus is on a search for treatment options and clinical trials. Sometimes, people assume if the family has good medical insurance that will take care of everything. Sometimes it simply gets lost in all the information that patients and caregivers receive.
The next time you learn that someone you know has cancer, make it a point to tell them about Cancer Services. They may already know about the help available, but they might not. Be patient and explain the basics. Make sure that they know you’re not talking about a hospital or treatment center. Let them know that there is something for everyone. It’s not about money—how much you have or don’t have. Cancer Services is here because caring people in our community understand what it means to have cancer and they want to help. Compassion, knowledge and support, it’s what Cancer Services does and you can help by telling people where to find it.
by Gail Hamm, Program Director
The caregiver is the unsung hero in the medical journey. Caregivers provide hands-on care and encouragement. They may provide care as an act of love, from a sense of duty, or out of feelings of guilt. Whether caring for a loved one at home or in a nursing facility, the truth is that nothing is the same as it was before the illness.
Schedules revolve around the needs of the patient. Hard choices abound: Is my loved one safe alone while I am at work? While I run to the store? While I head to the mailbox? There are frustrations over added laundry, money worries, lack of help. Many find it extremely difficult to ask for help and therefore create even more challenges for themselves.
As the caregiver becomes more fatigued and frustrated, feelings of resentment may arise. Previous relationship problems only complicate matters. Will I care for this person who has caused me so much pain in the past? Am I not justified in walking away? Guilt feelings abound, sometimes paralyzing the caregiver into inaction.
Additional problems arise when the patient’s needs are greater than the caregiver’s ability to provide that care. If the caregiving lasts so long that there appears to be no end to the journey, the caregiver may become overwhelmed and feel ready to give up.
Conversely, caregiving can be a most rewarding experience. It is an act of love that can draw people closer together and deepen love and understanding.
No one has to “go it alone.” There is help available if both the patient and caregiver are willing to be open to other options. Call a Cancer Services advocate for assistance. Nothing is the same as it was before the illness, but it can be good.