by Gail Hamm, Program Director
Waiting to have the CT scan…
Waiting for the ultrasoundâ€¦
Waiting for the biopsyâ€¦
Waiting for the results of all the testsâ€¦
Then waiting to start treatmentâ€¦
Cancer is full of waiting and worrying; not knowing if the results of the tests will mean a reprieve, or if the results will start a new process of decision making. Each day is met with wonderingâ€¦wondering what will happen next. At times, you can feel very alone.
When you are a client of Cancer Services, you can lean on your Client Advocate to find strength in uncertain times. Or you may share your concerns in a support group, knowing that others have experienced similar circumstances.
When others care, you do not have to feel alone even when you are waiting.
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 programâ€¦. helps with relaxation and pain management. Starts Wednesday, January 5 at 5:30PM. Call to reserve your spot. Susan Swardenski facilitates.
- re-Energize! â€¦an exercise program for people of any abilityâ€¦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 â€¦a NEW general cancer support groupâ€¦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.
We have amazing volunteers and this morning, we hosted our annual Volunteer Appreciation Celebration at Ceruti’s to honor them. More than 200 volunteers attended and enjoyed a delicious breakfast and entertainment by the Alley Kats.
We could not do what we do without our volunteers and we think we have some of the best ones around. Here are some statistics about them in 2010.
Support group facilitators, members of the advisory board, and Finance and Friend Development committee members have planned, led, attended and participated in 320 meetings
Volunteers provided 355 trips for our clients to and from treatment centers in the wind, rain and snow.
Our volunteer receptionists come in every week and greet our clients with warm smiles, answering 6 phone lines, and keeping things running during lunch time. They have given 467 hours to us this year.
Volunteers helped us have a presence at 35 different health fairs or educational events.
Our Monday morning volunteers who show up faithfully each week cut bed pads, inspect bed pads, assemble folders, shred papers, and help with mailings. They have donated 534 hours this year.
We had 22 volunteer massage therapists who participated in an advanced training class for working with oncology patients. In July we launched our Caring Touch program and since then have given 301 massages to our clients and their primary caregivers.
Our special events volunteers, who help plan Survivors Day, The Tribute Dinner, Design on Life, Tie 1 On, and Lapper, donated more than 1,200 hours in planning, implementing, and assisting with our events.
Our sewing groups donated 7,185 hours washing, ironing, cutting, pinning, and sewing 6,620 bed pads for us.
All together, our volunteers donated 12,150 hours in 2010!
Our Volunteer Coordinator, Cheryl Dafforn, left our volunteers with this special message.
One of my favorite things to do in my job is to plan this event for you. You hold such a dear place in all of our hearts and we love it when we can all come together and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
This year we have chosen a coffee cup as your thank-you. Did you know that coffee is a very ancient drink, and that people have been drinking it for over two thousand years? In fact coffee is now one of the most popular drinks in the world, and is almost as valuable as petroleum. Now a coffee bean by itself may not appear to be anything special, but when you add water things change. It becomes a rich, bold, invigorating beverage that some of us hold very dear. It also gives us a boost and keeps us going.
You, as volunteers give us a boost and keep us going.
Wilfred A Peterson once said â€œDecision is the spark that ignites action. Until a decision is made nothing happens.” Your decision to become a volunteer with Cancer Services allows us to utilize your gifts to lessen and ease the changes our clients face each day.
The reality isâ€¦cancer changes people. Our objective, here at Cancer Services, is to make those changes as painless as possible. Without volunteers like you, we could not do that. Your volunteer moments count. Just by volunteering your time you demonstrate what counts. Moments count, people count, count the moments we have together.
Thank-you for making the decision to volunteer. We realize you may not always see the end results of your volunteer efforts, or the impact it has with our clients but please know thisâ€¦ Our cup runneth over with great volunteers, and we are truly blessed by each and every one of you.
Thank you for being â€œBoldâ€ enough to volunteer, and making our lives â€œRicherâ€
Fifty years after the discovery of the first direct genetic link to cancer, scientists are assessing the state of so-called targeted therapy â€” with nearly 30 treatments on the market and a dozen or so more under study.
â€œWeâ€™re still not using the â€˜Câ€™ word, â€˜cure,â€™â€ cautioned personalized medicine director Jeff Boyd of Fox Chase Cancer Center, who helped organized a meeting in Philadelphia today to mark the anniversary and examine the future of targeted therapy.
But, he added, â€œthere is real potential to transform many cancers into chronic diseases.â€
One next challenge is how to expand the number of targets to attack, in part by answering what the new chief of the National Cancer Institute calls the â€œbig questionsâ€ about what makes this disease so intractable.
Questions like: What makes a tumor metastasize, or spread through the body? Metastasis is what kills, yet scientists donâ€™t know why some tumors spread and others donâ€™t, and what programs those tumor cells to invade, say, the liver instead of the bone or the lung â€” factors that undoubtedly could be new treatment targets.
Starting in October, Dr. Harold Varmus, the NCIâ€™s director, will begin quizzing top researchers from around the country about which of oncologyâ€™s underlying mysteries should be part of his â€œBig Questions Initiative,â€ a new focus of government cancer research.
Answering those questions â€œwould get you over a roadblock that keeps us from making better progress,â€ Varmus told a meeting of his scientific advisers earlier this month.
For Dr. Otis Brawley of the American Cancer Society, such a project might finally offer clues to a huge problem facing patients today: How to tell who needs the most aggressive treatment, and who would be OK skipping the big guns.
A domino effect of genetic alterations is required to cause any of the 200 diseases collectively called cancer. Some occur in the person, making them more prone to illness. But tumors also have their own genetic signature â€” four to seven genetic changes that are critical to turning, say, a normal breast or colon or liver cell into a cancerous one, and a pattern of activity that signals how aggressive that malignancy will be. Those unique patterns also offer targets for treatment, drugs that zero in on the particular genetic pathways fueling the personâ€™s cancer â€” and even vaccine-like therapies, a fledgling field that aims to train patientsâ€™ immune systems to recognize and fight their tumors.
It all started with the 1960 publication of what was dubbed the Philadelphia chromosome, a funny-looking chromosome that two scientists â€” one from the University of Pennsylvania, one from Fox Chase â€” spotted only in patients with a specific kind of leukemia. Fast-forward to the 2001 approval of the groundbreaking drug Gleevec, which has turned chronic myeloid leukemia from a fast killer into a disease that many patients today manage with a daily pill. It works by targeting the cancer-causing protein produced by the Philadelphia chromosome.
Gleevec wasnâ€™t the first genetic targeted therapy for cancer â€” the decades of research sparked by that discovery actually paid off for some other cancers first.
Boyd predicts there will be more than 100 targeted therapies available within several more years, and the real quest is for targets that prove as crucial to holding cancer in check as Gleevecâ€™s did.,
Generating particular excitement now are possible new drugs for hard-to-treat breast cancer, compounds called PARP inhibitors that block enzymes needed for cell growth.
by Gail Hamm, Program Director
There is a certain tension between caregivers and patients- a delicate dance, if you will. Each tries to protect the other. And even if communication was good before the need for caregiving, there may still be times of conflict and hurt feelings. Important things may not be said because it is difficult to talk about the â€œelephant in the living room.â€ At other times, it is difficult to understand each otherâ€™s perspective.
I have watched this dance play out in many ways. From the perspective of the cancer survivor (a person is a survivor from the day of diagnosis, by the way)â€¦ I have heard this person ask, â€œHow do I get my family to accept the new me?â€ Sometimes the “new me” looks, acts, sounds, ambulates, or eats differently from the “me” before diagnosis and treatment. The â€œnew meâ€ is who he is now, and cannot go back. There is no choice. The survivor is making accommodations to survive and thrive in his new way of living. It takes a lot of time and perseverance to assume the new mantle of self, find meaning from the experience, and survive day-to-day. In addition, he may also be short- tempered and frustrated, and just plain not feeling well.
It can be difficult for the caregiver to accept the â€œnew me,â€ precisely because there is a â€œnew me.â€ Out of love, the caregiver offers food and advice. And when the survivor refuses or only eats a little, the caregiver can become extremely frustrated. There may also be the unspoken fear that, â€œIf I donâ€™t feed him, he will dieâ€¦. itâ€™s my responsibility to nurture my husband and keep him alive.â€ There is a certain feeling of impotency and helplessness in not being able to protect and save our loved ones.
Caregivers, out of their love for the survivors, are struggling to provide assistance, but what they are offering may be rebuffedâ€¦not out of diminished love or caring, but because the survivor wants to do it in his or her own way. To the caregiver it feels like rejection. To the person being cared for, it feels like smothering. In either case, both are trying their best to maintain relationships while dealing with a new lifestyle for which no one asked nor planned.
If you are in this situation, I highly recommend the support group venue as a way to share triumphs and dilemmas. Others have dealt with what you may be experiencing. In coming to a support group and sharing, caregivers and survivors are bringing problems out into the open and finding solutions. Listening to others provides new perspectives and renewed energy for the caregiver/patient dance. Cancer Services offers a variety of support groups. Check out the possibilities at cancer-services.org or call 260-484-9560 or toll free 866-484-9560.