AVONCares Provides Help for Women Facing Cancer

August 18, 2014

Cancer treatment not only includes medical expenses, but also practical costs such as transportation to and from treatment, home care and child care. Thanks to AVONCares, a partnership between CancerCare and the Avon Foundation for Women, financial assistance and other services have been made available to underserved women facing cancer in all 50 states. Over the past 14 years, AVONCares has provided more than $21.6 million to help these women cope with cancer.

The financial impact of a cancer diagnosis is oftentimes overlooked and under-discussed. The inability to go to work and provide for one’s family, paired with medical and practical costs, can result in patients feeling lost and unsure of where to turn for help.

From Kathleen, a recent AVONCares grant recipient: “I never dreamed I would be in this position of being diagnosed with cancer and asking for help, because I was always the one giving to others. God bless you and your organization for your kindness.”

Support for this program is made possible by funds raised through the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Series.

Remember to reach out for support—medical debt can cause emotional stress, but there are resources available to provide relief. Learn more about CancerCare’s financial assistance services.

 


Susan’s Story of Help and Hope

August 14, 2014

The family at Henri’s 5th birthday party

Susan faced many challenges after her husband Chris was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. One of the greatest was figuring out the best way to talk about cancer with their five-year-old son Henri.

“Henri knows that something is wrong and I’m sure he knows more than he is able to articulate. He knows that daddy is sick,” shares Susan.

After searching online, Susan called CancerCare in search of resources to help Henri understand and cope. An oncology social worker suggested The Comfort Pillow Activity to help the family communicate with one another and feel more comfortable talking about cancer. The Activity includes a pillow that can be customized and designed to bring a child comfort, as well as a booklet and additional resources that help to initiate therapeutic conversations.

“CancerCare and their resources have been so helpful. Chris and Henri sat on the floor together, spread out all of the kit materials and colored on the pillow. It was a really great exercise for Chris – a really special bonding moment and it’s something they’ll always have together.”

The pillow features Henri’s favorite things including superheroes, rainbows, planets and rocket ships. “Henri sleeps with the pillow every night. He traced hearts on one side and wrote ‘Henri, Dad and Mom’ in each of the hearts.”

Sue feels the activity has brought the family closer and has allowed them to have difficult conversations about cancer. “When Chris has to leave for chemotherapy, he is oftentimes gone before Henri wakes up and doesn’t return until after Henri goes to bed. On those days, Henri can pull out the pillow and know that he is loved and can read the special message on an enclosed heart from his dad.”

 

 


CancerCare Welcomes Ellen Miller Sonet as Chief Strategy and Alliance Officer

August 7, 2014

CancerCare is pleased to welcome Chief Strategy and Alliance Officer Ellen Miller Sonet to the organization.

In her role, Sonet will serve as an integral member of CancerCare’s Executive Leadership Team charged with strategic branding, cultivating alliances within the oncology community and advancing CancerCare’s national policy agenda.

“I’m honored to be joining this extraordinary organization, which is at the forefront of supporting cancer patients and families both locally and nationally,” Sonet said.

In her nearly 17 years as Vice President of Marketing at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Sonet was an avid patient advocate who was devoted to understanding the complex nature of health care decision-making and the needs of people affected by cancer. Her work showed an unfaltering focus on clear and relevant communication that facilitated making informed health care choices and supported patients and families through their cancer experiences.

“Ellen is a creative and passionate health care marketing and strategy professional with in-depth experience at executive levels in the hospital and pharma industries,” said CancerCare CEO Patricia J. Goldsmith. “Her expertise and vision will undoubtedly elevate our status as a national oncology leader and will help us to build on 70 years of success.”

Prior to her tenure at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Sonet worked in pharmaceutical marketing on brands such as Afrin Nasal Spray and Bayer Aspirin. She holds a BA in political science from Brown University, and an MBA and JD from Boston University.

 

 


Coping with Cancer as an Older Adult

August 7, 2014

Older adults have numerous strengths, including knowledge and experience, that can assist them in coping with a cancer diagnosis. Simultaneously, they may face unique challenges that affect their ability to make health care decisions and receive quality care.

Today, older adults find themselves in an increasingly complex medical system where they are expected to take an active role in managing their care when they may be unable to do so. Access to medical information through technology may prove confusing and cause patients to refrain from asking key questions about their care or feel unsure about where to access important and accurate health information.

It is essential that older adults and their loved ones be able to openly and honestly discuss their care with their doctors and any potential difficulties that may arise. CancerCare has valuable tips for communicating with your health care team.

Many older patients struggle with changes related to aging and becoming more dependent on others. As oncology health professionals, we are in the unique position to provide care and support. To learn more, please call 800-813-HOPE (4673).

Our guest blogger Sarah Kelly, LSCW is coordinator for Older Adult Services at CancerCare


Serpil’s Story of Help and Hope

July 24, 2014

After her husband Lance was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer at age 36, Serpil struggled with how to help her young children cope. “Lance was diagnosed when my daughter Seylan was five and my son Cole was two,” shares Serpil. “The relationship that they had with him was unbelievable. They were so close, so I knew that I needed to find them any type of help. I knew I needed to move and move fast.”

Their daughter Seylan began attending face-to-face counseling sessions with an oncology social worker at CancerCare’s New Jersey office located close to home. “She absolutely connected to the social worker. My husband also needed support and participated in counseling sessions by phone.”

Four years after his diagnosis, Lance passed away. Serpil once again set out to find additional resources to help her children process their grief. “CancerCare was always in the back of my mind. There was a comfort level there, so I reached out when I heard about the Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp.”

Serpil and her children attended CancerCare’s Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp during the summers of 2013 and 2014. The Camp, located at Malibu Dude Ranch in Milford, PA, offers a healing retreat for families coping with the loss of a loved one to cancer. The weekend combines fun activities such as swimming and horseback riding with therapeutic grief activities. The annual free retreat is made possible by dedicated supporters at Eisai.

Releasing a butterfly in Lance’s memory at the Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp

“What really touched me was seeing so many kids, who all shared a similar journey, in one place where they could just be free,” recalls Serpil. “I found the camp to be a refuge for them – a happy place. The kids stay in touch through social media and it gives them a sense of community. Very few of their classmates have had that same experience, so it helps them to have peers that understand.”

The family is now focused on healing by keeping Lance’s memory alive. “Every day presents new challenges and new hopes. You learn to live with the loss and you find comfort in memorializing a loved one. I’ve found it important to embrace amazing organizations like CancerCare. They serve as an outlet and an opportunity to connect and to remind us that we are not alone.”

 

 

 


CancerCare Welcomes Ellen Miller Sonet as Chief Strategy and Alliance Officer

July 22, 2014

In her new role, Ellen Miller Sonet will serve as an integral member of CancerCare’s Executive Leadership Team charged with strategic branding, cultivating alliances within the oncology community and advancing the organization’s national policy agenda.

“I’m honored to be joining this extraordinary organization, which is at the forefront of supporting cancer patients and families both locally and nationally,” Sonet said.

In her nearly 17 years as Vice President of Marketing at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Sonet was an avid patient advocate who was devoted to understanding the complex nature of health care decision-making and the needs of people affected by cancer. Her work showed an unfaltering focus on clear and relevant communication that facilitated making informed health care choices and supported patients and families through their cancer experiences.

“Ellen is a creative and passionate health care marketing and strategy professional with in-depth experience at executive levels in the hospital and pharma industries,” said CancerCare CEO Patricia J. Goldsmith. “Her expertise and vision will undoubtedly elevate our status as a national oncology leader and will help us to build on 70 years of success. Our leadership team feels confident that with Ellen’s expertise, we will have an even greater capacity to help anyone coping with a cancer diagnosis.”

Prior to her tenure at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Sonet worked in pharmaceutical marketing on brands such as Afrin Nasal Spray and Bayer Aspirin. She holds a BA in political science from Brown University, and an MBA and JD from Boston University.

 

 

 

 


Xiomara and Jaeden’s Story of Help and Hope

July 17, 2014

Xiomara, 46, had never been affected by cancer until her son Jaeden was suddenly diagnosed at age three with ependymoma, a rare type of brain tumor.

“No one in my family had ever had cancer. When you hear about it, it is totally different than when it actually hits your family – especially a toddler,” she explains.

In 2010, Xiomara noticed that Jaeden began frequently stumbling and falling. “One day he was playing on the floor and he looked up at me and his eyes crossed. I thought it was kind of strange. I told myself, now I’m going to look into this and took him to the pediatrician.”

After Jaeden received an MRI, the doctor called to deliver the news. “He kept saying ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ When he said the word cancer, I was stunned. He asked me to write down these phone numbers, but I couldn’t write. It is a feeling you just can’t describe. It hits you.”

Jaeden was quickly scheduled for surgery to remove the tumor and spent the following two weeks in the intensive care unit. “It was nerve-racking. My sister came to the hospital and waited 16 hours during the surgery with me. Waiting, waiting and waiting. It was hard on my other two children. My first son couldn’t walk into the room because of the tubes and bandages.”

As part of his treatment plan, Jaeden was transferred to a rehabilitation unit and underwent six weeks of radiation. He also had eye surgery and began outpatient therapy. He will most likely undergo eye surgery in the near future and continues weekly therapy.

Since Jaeden’s diagnosis, Xiomara has received financial assistance through a partnership between CancerCare and The Lavelle Fund. This fund supports programs that help people who are blind and visually impaired lead independent, productive lives.

Jaeden celebrating his seventh birthday

“CancerCare helped me out with medical bills that I had to pay, along with the transportation to vision therapy. If it wasn’t for that I don’t know what I would have done. I’m still struggling as a single parent, but they have helped and I’m very grateful.”

Now seven years old, Jaeden is thriving at school and summer camp. “I’m grateful to know that his tumor is out and that he’s doing as well as he is right now,” says Xiomara. “He’s walking, he’s talking. I still think about it and am still nervous about it. That’s my little angel. He’s a strong little boy.”

 


Understanding Palliative Care

July 11, 2014

Did you know that palliative care helps people at any age and any stage of cancer? Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing you with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness like cancer.

The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for both you and your family. You can receive it along with your curative treatment. The palliative care team of doctors, nurses, social workers and other specialists will work together with your other doctors to provide an extra layer of support.

To get palliative care, ask your doctor for a referral. CancerCare has resources to help you learn more about palliative care and you can also visit Get Palliative Care for additional information.

 


Finding Support for the Cancer Caregiver

July 7, 2014

If you are helping to care for a loved one with cancer, you are a “caregiver.” It can be an incredibly rewarding role, but it can also take an emotional and physical toll. You need support, too.

Some caregivers find it difficult to ask for help. You may feel embarrassed or like you’re imposing on others. But getting help is important—for both for you and the person you are caring for.

The website Help for Cancer Caregivers was created especially to help you take care of yourself, while you take care of your loved one.

CancerCare client Kathryn opened up about her caregiving experience after her husband was diagnosed with melanoma. “One of the biggest challenges that I was facing as a caregiver was feeling the need to be ‘on’ all the time, feeling that I had to be the one who remained strong and healthy. I was surrounded by people who loved both of us and supported us, but there was no one in the room who really understood what I was going through.”

To be the best caregiver for your loved one, seek support and information from others. Caregivers who receive help report feeling less isolated, anxious and depressed. And, having a community of support can free up their time and help them maintain their physical and emotional well-being, which in turn makes them better able to care for their loved one.

“Some of the most important things to keep in mind while caring for a loved one is that it’s important to listen to them and give them a safe space, but also to have them listen to you and let them take care of you a little bit sometimes,” shared Kathryn.

Help for Cancer Caregivers is a unique collaboration of organizations with a shared goal of improving the health and well-being of the people who care for people with cancer. CancerCare has additional resources dedicated to helping you cope, including support groups, publications and podcasts. For additional help, reach out to one of our oncology social workers by calling 800-813-HOPE (4673).

 


CancerCare Board of Trustees Appoints New President, Michael Parisi

July 1, 2014

CancerCare is pleased to announce the appointment of Michael Parisi as President of its Board of Trustees.

Mr. Parisi is currently Managing Partner of Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide, the health care division of Ogilvy and Mather. For more than two decades, he has been at the forefront of the global health care marketing arena with an intense focus on oncology.

“I am proud to be involved with CancerCare, an organization that has provided high touch, free professional services to hundreds of thousands of people coping with a cancer diagnosis,” said Mr. Parisi. “Over the past 70 years, CancerCare has provided services that have evolved to meet the ever-changing needs of the cancer community. That said, as the U.S. health care system is currently in a state of rapid and complete transformation, the need for CancerCare’s services has never been in greater demand. I’m excited to have a proven leader in CEO Patricia Goldsmith to help lead this great organization through this critically important period of growth and evolution.”

While in graduate school, Mr. Parisi followed his passion for helping people affected by cancer and other illnesses and became a trained hospice counselor and end-of-life coach. He remains actively involved with the cancer community and has been a dedicated supporter of CancerCare for the past 15 years.

“The Board of Trustees has selected an ideal President in Michael Parisi, who will lead CancerCare into its eighth decade of service,” said CancerCare CEO Patricia J. Goldsmith. “Michael’s commitment to the oncology community and dedication to CancerCare’s mission makes him an invaluable asset to the organization. His creativity, passion and professional experience will allow us to continue to expand our unique service offerings and, most importantly, serve more people affected by cancer than ever before.”

In his new role, Mr. Parisi succeeds Susan S. Smirnoff, who was appointed Board President in 2010. Ms. Smirnoff has been a member of CancerCare’s Board of Trustees since 2004.

“Under Susan’s leadership, CancerCare has evolved with the ever-changing needs of people facing a cancer diagnosis,” said Ms. Goldsmith. “Her profound contributions and dedication to our mission has elevated the organization to an expansive national platform.”

Mr. Parisi is joined by 30 fellow Board Members who provide fiscal and strategic oversight of the national nonprofit. Their leadership plays a pivotal role in allowing the organization to directly serve more than 170,000 people affected by cancer across the nation each year.