Help Us Learn More About Preventing Infections During Chemotherapy

January 15, 2015

CancerCare, the CDC Foundation, and Amgen are working together on a survey to better understand cancer patients’ and caregivers’ knowledge of one of chemotherapy’s side effects that may increase their risk of getting an infection.

Fifteen minutes of your time will help us learn more. The survey results will help us better understand how to prevent infections during cancer treatment. The results will also help the CDC Foundation improve its website that was developed to better educate people with cancer about how to help reduce the risk of infection during treatment. No information that could identify you will be collected or stored.

As a small token of our appreciation for your help in this effort, we will mail you a tote bag filled with several items to help you or a loved one stay healthy this winter and/or during chemotherapy treatment. This tote bag includes a thermometer, bar of soap, bottle of hand sanitizer and a refrigerator magnet. This offer is available while supplies last.

We invite patients and caregivers to take our 14-question survey. We are looking for:

  • People living with cancer or cancer survivors who are currently being treated for cancer with chemotherapy or who have received chemotherapy in the past 5 years AND have never had and are not scheduled to have a bone marrow transplant (BMT) or stem cell transplant (SCT).
  • Caregivers and loved ones of people who meet the above criteria.

If you meet the above criteria, we would greatly appreciate your participation. Please click here to start the survey. We thank you in advance for your help!

 

 


Thanks for Sharing Your #CaregiverCandids!

January 13, 2015

In honor of National Family Caregivers Month, CancerCare encouraged anyone affected by cancer to recognize caregivers by sharing a photo that represents this important role. We received a collection of inspiring and creative photos from across the nation.

Congratulations to grand prize winner, Melissa!

“My amazing husband, Bud, with me on 11/11/14 as I prepare for my 11th surgery. I had a total hysterectomy and oophorectomy due to being a BRCA2 mutation carrier. This was an emotionally difficult surgery. He brightens my world when I’m lost in the dark.” 

 

Congratulations to our second place winner, Stephanie!

“I am the caregiver for my husband Andy who just recently had his 3rd surgery since being diagnosed with GBM IV. This continues to be a stressful ongoing struggle, but I am thankful to be here helping encourage him and our children to never give up hope.”

 

CancerCare provides free, professional support services for caregivers and loved ones, as well as caregiving information and additional resources.

Take a moment to check out our #CaregiverCandids album and follow us on Facebook to learn about future photo contests!

 

 


Why I Decided to be a Social Worker

January 8, 2015

I have been in the helping profession for a long time as an educator, volunteer outreach program director, interfaith minister, non-profit administrator and chaplain. During the aftermath of 9/11, I served as a volunteer chaplain helping families and survivors in crisis.

After a week of doing this work, I looked at the team and told them, “I want to do this the rest of my life! What do I need to do career-wise?” The professionals in the room were psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers. Without missing a beat, I knew that social work was my next career. I realized that it was my passion and soul.

As a CancerCare intern, I have learned a great deal and believe that this organization is a little piece of heaven on earth. All interactions are precious and all relationships are equally valued. The kindness and the sense that no job is too small foster an attitude in everyone that breathes into everything that is said and done. The spirit of sharing knowledge is so alive in this place. Everyone here demonstrates curiosity, compassion, resilience, geniality, joy, and an unequivocal dedication to their service vocation.

One has to ask oneself, “Why do I do this?” The answer has to land somewhere in the realm of wanting to make the world a better place, be it by healing emotional wounds, empowering people to take whatever next step they need to take, bringing people together, or holding others to the highest level of respect and dignity.

Guest blogger Anahi Galante is a Zelda Foster Fellow, New York University’s mentoring program for social workers specializing in palliative and end of life care, and CancerCare Social Work Intern.

 

 


Rasheen’s Story of Help and Hope

January 6, 2015

Rasheen noticed a suspicious lump after having difficulties breastfeeding her youngest son, Abraham. In 2009, the mother of five was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.

“I was only 38 and didn’t think it was anything at first. It turned into an ultrasound, a biopsy, then an MRI and then a mastectomy,” remembers Rasheen.

During her treatment, Rasheen grappled with feelings of helplessness. “I felt lost because I couldn’t do the duties that I was able to perform before the cancer – taking care of the house and the children. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. There was always the question of if I don’t survive, what’s going to happen to our children. They won’t know their mother.”

Rasheen’s husband, BK Davis, became her primary caregiver and put his career as a Steinway International Artist on hold to be by her side. “My husband would just play music for me. I think the help of prayer, faith and music all contributes to not feeling alone.” Her mother also became a strong source of support and caregiving from afar.

The Florida family also began struggling financially as medical bills mounted. They decided to reach out to CancerCare for help. “Money was getting tight. I applied for grants and different types of help. I found that CancerCare was just the number one resource for information and financial assistance. They understand the emotions that you’re going to go through. It’s a one-stop shop.”

Rasheen knew that she wanted to give back and share her experience with others and so she began writing “The Chemo Room.” The book, to be released in February 2015, talks about her life leading up to cancer, her experience in the chemotherapy room and gives tribute to caregivers. Proceeds from the book with benefit people affected by cancer.

Rasheen now serves as her husband’s manager and the couple will head out on a 25 city tour in 2015. At each stop, she will share her cancer story with the audience. “After 20 years in corporate America, I had to give it up and now I’ve found another way to be useful – working with my husband and advocating for CancerCare. I’m truly grateful that this is my time to give back.”

She has made it her personal mission to help other women and their families to regain the usefulness of their lives after the pain and fear of breast cancer. “Cancer caused a lot of depression and anxiety. Some days I feel good and those are the days when I tell someone my story and it helps them. I feel like this is a new reality for me. It’s a whole new life. ”

 

 


Join CancerCare for Free Webinar on Cancer in the Workplace

December 30, 2014

CancerCare CEO and cancer survivor Patricia J. Goldsmith will lead the webinar “Cancer in the Workplace: What Every CEO Should Know” on February 5, 2015 at 1PM EST.

The presentation will look at how employers can support their employees affected by cancer while improving their bottom line. Participants will learn how to help employees balance cancer and career; support their return to work; and to sustain and retain employees affected by cancer.

“Most people think that the world – and the work – stops when they hear the words, ‘you have cancer,’ but it simply isn’t true anymore,” said CancerCare CEO Patricia J. Goldsmith. “Among the 14.6 million cancer survivors in the U.S. are your employees, colleagues, friends and family members. They all strive to be as ‘normal’ as possible while struggling through a maze of pain and anxiety, clinicians and payers, multi-modality treatments and medicines, procedures, scans and physical changes that defy imagination and may go on for years. Yet, they continue to work in your company as well as juggle their responsibilities as parents, siblings and caregivers, community leaders and volunteers.”

Through this webinar, specially tailored for CEOs, VPs and operational leaders everywhere, participants will learn how to partner with organizations like CancerCare to make a difference in today’s workplace and provide help and hope to those affected by cancer.

To register or to learn more, visit www.execunet.com. If you are unable to make the live presentation, please complete the registration form to receive the recorded program after the session.

 


Partnership with Caribou Coffee Raises More than $200,000 in Support of CancerCare’s Free Services

December 18, 2014

 

Check Presentation with Caribou Coffee Leadership Team [Far Left: CancerCare CEO Patricia J. Goldsmith; Far Right: CancerCare COO John Rutigliano]

For the third year, Caribou Coffee offered its Caribou Coffee Amy’s Blend collection of coffee, tea and merchandise from September 27 through October 31, donating 10% of all retail coffeehouse proceeds to CancerCare. The collection was named in honor of the company’s original roastmaster, Amy Erickson, and helped raise more than $200,000 in support of people coping with breast cancer.

Members of Caribou Coffee’s leadership team journeyed from Minneapolis to our national headquarters in New York City to present Caribou’s donation on Dec 18.

“We are tremendously proud of our partnership with Caribou Coffee, a company that shares CancerCare’s dedication to helping people affected by the challenges of cancer,” said CancerCare Chief Executive Officer Patricia J. Goldsmith.  

To learn more about this year’s Caribou Coffee Amy’s Blend program, visit www.CaribouCoffee.com/Amy.

 

 


Vera’s Story of Help and Hope

December 16, 2014

Advocating for the well-being of others has always been a priority for Vera, who is the founder of a career advancement firm specializing in diversity recruiting. But she quickly began to realize the importance of advocating for oneself after being diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2014.

“I didn’t know a thing about breast cancer. I was totally in the dark and only knew that I’d been lucky up to this point,” shares Vera, 71. “There was urgency and I had to be aggressive to get what I needed. I had to make sure that I was taken care of the way I needed to be taken care of.”

Vera soon underwent an MRI, biopsy and surgery to remove the tumor. Chemotherapy and radiation followed in her treatment plan. “I hated going to chemotherapy the first day and then saw that I had to change my attitude. My friend said you have to be grateful because how many women out there with cancer don’t have access to treatment. That changed my thinking and I started to see that people were there to help me. They were my friends, not my enemies, so I went in with a smile.”

Throughout her treatment, Vera leaned on a network of caregivers and was referred to CancerCare through several members of her synagogue. “I’ve been very open about my diagnosis and that has been part of the support. The people in my synagogue are very supportive, always asking me what they can do. Some have even begun telling me how they’ve survived cancer and it has been very inspiring. It shows me that I’ll have a long healthy life ahead of me.”

Vera credits her CancerCare oncology social worker for helping to navigate the emotional, physical and practical challenges associated with her diagnosis. “I received total support from Alison. Total understanding of how I felt and that I was not crazy. I couldn’t have gotten through this without her.”

Through her cancer experience, Vera says she has become a much stronger and more compassionate person. “I used all of my survival skills. They were put into play as soon as I had that mammogram and heard the doctor say, ‘Oops it looks like we’ve got something here.’ I went into gear immediately.”

“I’ve learned to be really very supportive of other people and what they’re going through. Everyone needs people to care about them, to love them, to be thinking about them and hoping that they are going to be ok. Everybody needs it. It’s really been a huge lesson for me and has made me very aware of how fragile we are.”

Continuing to do the work that she loves, maintaining a positive outlook and staying up to date on cancer treatment information has helped Vera to heal and regain a sense of normalcy.

“One message I would share after going through this is to advocate for yourself every minute. You’ve got to stand up for yourself. No one knows what you need better than you.”

 

 

 

 


CancerCare Social Workers in the Spotlight

December 9, 2014

 

CancerCare Women’s Cancers Program Coordinator Allison Nilsen, MSW, LCSW has been selected as a recipient of the prestigious 8th Annual Emerging Social Work Leader Awards of the National Association of Social Workers – New York City Chapter.

NASW-NYC, through its 8th Annual Leadership Awards, recognizes social workers who demonstrate exemplary leadership qualities and a unique commitment to the improvement of social and human conditions.

Through her work at CancerCare, Allison provides help and hope to those affected by women’s cancers. “I am continuously amazed by the resiliency of the human spirit,” shares Allison. “I work collaboratively with my clients to help them feel empowered, find meaning in their cancer experiences, and move towards physical and emotional healing.”

 

CancerCare Clinical Supervisor Richard Dickens, MS, LCSW-R and Director of the Susan G. Komen Breast Care Helpline Vilmarie Rodriguez, MSW, LCSW are co-authors in the recently released book “Surviving Cancer: Our Voices & Choices.”

“CancerCare has positively impacted the lives of many friends. When we formed our ‘Cancer Team’ for “Surviving Cancer: Our Voices & Choices” CancerCare became one of the first organizations we wished to include in our book,” shared author Marion Behr. “Richard Dickens came highly recommended. He reached beyond even my expectations because of the human quality he incorporated in his writing. Vilmarie was introduced to us because of her recognized gift as an oncology social worker.”

The book is a compilation of 67 voices belonging to survivors and a “cancer team” of doctors, social workers, cancer organization leaders, and other professionals directly involved in assisting cancer patients. Visit www.wwhpress.com to learn more about the book or to order a copy.

 

CancerCare Director of Education and Training Carolyn Messner, DSW, MSW, OSW-C, LCSW-R was awarded best poster at the International Cancer Education Conference. The poster, “When a Co-Worker is Dying in the Workplace: Transformative Grief Educational Paradigm” was selected by a conference poster committee.

The International Cancer Education Conference is organized by three cancer professional organizations – American Association for Cancer Education (AACE), Cancer Patient Education (CPEN) and the European Association for Cancer Education (EACE).

 

Congratulations to Allison, Rick, Vilmarie and Carolyn!

 


What I’ve Learned as a Social Work Intern

December 5, 2014

Cancer. The word itself provokes a vast array of emotional responses: fear, anger, sadness, confusion. People are fearful of this diagnosis, of the way it can change someone’s life and the various “unknowns” that surround an individual and his or her loved ones.

A diagnosis can be overpowering and daunting. However one lesson I have learned since I began my career as a social work intern at CancerCare has been to notice the rays of sun that peek out when least expected.

One important message floating through the facility of CancerCare is hope. It is not simply that I bring forth the concept of hope when meeting with a client. Rather, they remind me of the need for hope. They constantly teach me about the strength of the human spirit and the ways to persevere.

It can be difficult to access hope when coping with cancer. At times people may simply want to cry and vent, a right to which they are more than entitled. And yet, I have learned that hope can exist even in the most challenging of times. I came to CancerCare thinking that it would be my responsibility to help the clients find hope. In reality, I have learned more from my clients than I could have ever imagined. Their strength is evident by the mere fact that they sought out the support of CancerCare.

My time at CancerCare thus far has taught me about social work, as well as the reality of living with cancer. But more importantly, it has taught me about resilience and the beauty of life.

Guest blog by: Temimah Zucker

Social Work Intern at CancerCare

 


Family Conversations about Cancer

December 2, 2014

Cancer is a difficult subject to talk about, and many parents coping with a diagnosis may try to avoid the topic in fear that they will upset their children. What to say about cancer, how to say it, and how much information to share are common concerns.

Through my work at CancerCare, I have found that the use of art therapy can help families to communicate about cancer.

As one example of a creative project that can bring families together, CancerCare, with a sponsorship from Bayer, recently developed a free at-home activity kit to help start these discussions, called “Pillow Talk: Conversations about Cancer.”

Families who are supporting a loved one with cancer can order a free Pillow Talk Care Package that includes a hands-on, pillow-decorating project as well as materials that will help initiate those often-difficult conversations. With this care package, families can bring a blank pillow to life—it has a sleeve for pictures or special notes, fabric markers, and decorative materials that lets families’ creative expression drive the discussion.

CancerCare client Susan, of Connecticut, was faced with figuring out the best way to start the difficult cancer conversation with her 5-year-old son after her husband Chris’ diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer. Susan and her son sat together and colored the pillow that now features her son’s favorite things—superheroes, rainbows, planets, and rocket ships. On those long days when Chris is away at treatment, Susan’s son pulls out the pillow and reads the special messages his father left for him in the pouch.

 

Guest blogger Sandra Tripodi, MSW, LCSW, CancerCare Senior Director of Community Engagement