Tag: Help for Cancer patients

Am I a Survivor?

By Gail Hamm, Program Director

“……and wonder if I will be one of the survivors….”

Recently a Cancer Services’ client made the following comment on the evaluation she returned to us: “… (I) wonder if I will be one of the survivors…”

This is a concern of most people who hear, “You have cancer.” You do not know in that moment of stillness, what to expect next. It takes your breath away. Life stands still. In a split second, you remember all the dire stories you have ever heard, and forget the successes.

But the truth is, that everyone’s experience, while similar to others’, is really unique for that individual. You may or may not have the usual side effects. For some, the treatment and after effects are not significant to them. For others, the experience is so momentous that life is measured as “before cancer” and “after cancer.”

At Cancer Services, we use the term “cancer survivor” to mean anyone affected by cancer, from the moment of diagnosis forward. And it includes caregivers, as well. The term “cancer survivor” was first used by Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan, who was diagnosed in 1975 with mediastinal seminoma. In 1985, he wrote an essay for the New England Journal of Medicine titled “Seasons of Survival.” In that article, he wrote of the uncertainty of the life of a person diagnosed with cancer. He coined the term “cancer survivor” as an all-encompassing term identifying all people affected by cancer in any stage of survival. In a later interview on public radio, he said he wished that there were a better or more descriptive term to use. Even he recognized that people with cancer live in a sort of limbo, not knowing if they will survive the experience.

If there is a day when you need the reassurance that indeed you are a survivor who is surviving, just call your Cancer Services’ Client Advocate. He or she is here to listen to you, to encourage you, to help you find the answers you need in order to better cope with your unique situation.

Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana is the first place to call after a diagnosis of cancer : (260) 484-9560 or toll free (866) 484-9560. ….Serving people with cancer and their families since 1944.

Bring your family and join other cancer survivors at Lapper and Survivors Day at Foster Park, May 21. Lapper starts at9 am and the party for Survivors Day starts at 11 am. Fun, food, and festivities!

Spread the Word!

by Gail Hamm, program director

Cancer Services’ Client Advocates often hear this lament from a new client: “I wish I had heard about you sooner!” Of course we think we are doing everything the get the word out…news releases, Facebook, Twitter, Friends for Lunch, the Cancer Services’ website, brochures and folders at treatment centers, community presentations, etc. But these messages are not enough. We need your help to bring people to Cancer Services sooner.

People are amazed by all the items in our warehouse. Whether a camisole for a client about to have a mastectomy, gauze bandages for a wound, a hospital bed to allow a patient to sleep in an elevated position…all the services at Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana are here to make the lives of people with cancer and their families better.

In addition, clients in any stage of their cancer find that support groups are very helpful. Both clients and caregivers benefit from being able to talk with others to find out what to expect before, during and after treatment.

Most people believe that they have plenty of support from family, friends and their faith community. But Cancer Services is unique. Where else, in one place, can you find no-charge 1-on-1 emotional support from advocates, financial assistance, information about community and national resources, medical equipment and supplies, library, wig salon, massage, exercise, support groups and educational workshops?

So tell your friends and neighbors. Spread the word. Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana is the first place to go to after a diagnosis of cancer!

Client Story: The Saunder’s Family

by Michele DeVinney

Although Joel Saunders sought medical attention as soon as he found a lump in his neck in February 2009, it was almost six months before a diagnosis of cancer was made. Surgeries and difficult treatments followed, with perhaps the most difficult challenge coming from the interferon treatment recommended to attack the cancer. Discovered to be a rare melanoma – which appeared in his body rather than from a skin source – a PET scan discovered that despite the interferon and radiation treatment, the tumors had spread to his brain, leaving Joel and his wife Kimberly fearing the worst.

Kimberly, Joel’s sturdy caretaker in illness, fortuitously looked up the Mayo Clinic online and was thrilled when a trip to Rochester, Minnesota, was recommended. While the news they got while there wasn’t always good – and the trips back and forth from Fort Wayne were financially and emotionally depleting – Kimberly now feels blessed to have found the caring, competent staff of professionals at the Mayo Clinic and Hospital as well as the strength and support she, Joel, and their daughter have found from family, friends, and their church. They also found another important friend at Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana.

“My sister had had breast cancer, and her advocate was Brandon so she suggested we go there,” says Kimberly. “Cancer Services provided us with $500 to help with medical expenses. Our co-pay for the Keppra alone was $100 a month, so that was a tremendous blessing. But Brandon has been the biggest blessing of all, and Cancer Services has given us so much. The massages for both Joel and for me as his caretaker, the exercise classes which have helped Joel regain his strength, and just knowing that, should there come a time when we need a wheelchair or a hospital bed for home, it will be made available to us has given me such peace of mind.”

While the Saunders faith and their gratitude for the help they’ve received through the Mayo Clinic Hospital and Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana have helped them through some very difficult times in the last two years, it was another act of kindness that provided great joy and wonderful family memories.

“Brandon submitted our name to the Allen County Christmas Bureau in August 2009, and with all of the bills we had mounting, we really had no thoughts of a big Christmas celebration. But they provided us with so many wonderful gifts and tags with our names on them. Our daughter got a bicycle! We were all like kids that day, and it was so emotionally uplifting. We’re just so grateful, so thankful for everything Brandon and Cancer Services have done for us.”