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!

 

 


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. ”

 

 


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

 

 

 

 


Honor the Caregiver in your Life with #CaregiverCandids

November 21, 2014

In honor of National Family Caregivers Month, CancerCare is encouraging anyone affected by cancer to recognize caregivers by sharing a photo that represents this important role.

We want to know how being a caregiver, or being cared for when you needed it most, has impacted your life. Honor your family, friends, your pet, a health care professional or tell us how you were a caregiver – the choice is yours!

Participating is simple. Today through December 15, visit the contest page, log in, and upload a photo. The next step is to encourage others to “like” your photo.

Three finalists with the highest number of likes will be selected and our panel of judges will choose the winner. Top photos will be showcased nationally on our website homepage and social media pages.

The winner will receive a $250 gift card, so enter today! Prize packs will be awarded to second and third place winners.

Are you a caregiver? You deserve support. CancerCare provides free, professional support services for caregivers and loved ones, as well as caregiving information and additional resources.

 


CancerCare Oncology Social Worker Pens Inspirational Book for Families

November 5, 2014

Communicating with a child whose parent has been diagnosed with a chronic illness can be both confusing and overwhelming. As CancerCare’s Healing Hearts Program Coordinator, Claire Grainger, MSW, LCSW works closely with families to help navigate these challenges.

Based on her professional experience and expertise, Claire has written the recently published book “My Daddy Sits Upon a Star.”

According to the publisher, the book follows the life of a child whose father has been diagnosed and later dies of a chronic illness. The story shares how, even though the child misses his father’s physical presence, he is able to develop a way to maintain an everlasting connection to his father’s spirit.

Claire was first inspired to write the story after forming a lasting bond with her neighbor, Joey. At six years old, Joey experienced the loss of his father to pancreatic cancer, and Claire and her husband quickly stepped in to help the family cope.

“Joey is an only child and had no immediate family in the area. His mother, Kathy, is incredibly independent and stepped outside of her comfort zone to ask if we could help watch her son one night each week while she worked,” said Claire. “We became family in no time and forged a lasting relationship with love. We are connected and are there for each other.”

Claire penned the story and began reading it to Joey during their time together. “He loved the book. I wanted him to think about his dad in his everyday life and carry on the amazing bond that they shared. I wanted him to look out into the universe and still see his father.”

Joey, now a 22-year-old college student, has volunteered for the last three years at CancerCare’s Healing Hearts Family Bereavement Camp and other CancerCare fundraising events. “I think he sees himself in the children at the camp because he has been in their shoes. He wants to show them that he’s still connected to his dad and he’s ok.”

“This experience has taught me that even from a really difficult time, some really poignant and meaningful events and relationships can evolve,” said Claire. “This is a book for anyone who has suffered a loss. It can bring peace in knowing that you will never forget your loved one and that you can let them continue to inspire you.”

CancerCare provides free, professional support services for people who have experienced the loss of a loved one to cancer, as well as grief and loss information and additional resources.

Claire Grainger, MSW, LCSW

 


Helpful Resources Available in Time for National Family Caregivers Month

November 3, 2014

Kathryn and her husband Jonah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As more patient care is happening within the home, caregivers are becoming increasingly responsible for providing ongoing emotional and practical support. However, fewer than 15 percent of caregivers seek professional help in addressing their own physical, emotional and financial needs. In celebration of National Family Caregivers Month, CancerCare encourages caregivers to seek out support.

Helpful resources are now available to address the unique needs of those caring for a loved one. A new online tool called Help for Cancer Caregivers provides personalized information to help monitor, track and manage the challenges each person faces in their caregiver role. For example, if individuals feel overloaded by their caregiver responsibilities, the web tool responds with information on how to cope and talk about overload with others.

“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,” shares Kathryn, a cancer caregiver. “I was having a very hard time socially because 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.”

National Family Caregivers Month is an opportunity to advocate for those who provide care for loved ones. It is also a time to advocate for support and to provide education and resources for those playing this vital role.

Help for Cancer Caregivers is a collaboration of organizations with a common goal of reducing family caregiver distress: Caregiver Action Network, CancerCare, Indiana University, Johnson & Johnson, Michigan State University, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, an Amgen subsidiary, and WellPoint. Help for Cancer Caregivers continues to lead and innovate in the field of cancer caregiving.

CancerCare has additional resources for caregivers including support groups, counseling services, podcasts, educational materials and more. 

 


Palliative Care Inches Toward Standard of Care

October 29, 2014

The Inaugural Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium made its debut in Boston on October 24, 2014. Jointly sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM), American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC), this marks the first major meeting of cancer specialists and clinicians who focus on relieving symptoms.

Palliative care is specialized medical treatment that focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness. It improves quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Traditionally, palliative care has been accessed only toward the end of life. Many recent studies however, have shown that introducing it earlier into cancer patients’ care plans results in improved quality of life, living longer and lower medical costs. Patients and families may resist palliative services because they associate the term with hospice and end of life. This problem of semantics often results in patients not being adequately treated for debilitating symptoms such as pain, nausea and fatigue.

It’s time to correct these misconceptions and help patients access the care they need, be it medical, emotional, spiritual, financial or otherwise. Through palliative care, people affected by cancer will benefit from improved symptom management, reduced stress and overall, a better quality of life.

Want to know more? Visit cancer.gov or cancer.net for additional resources.

Our guest blogger is CancerCare Chief Executive Officer Patricia J. Goldsmith.

 


O’Neill’s Irish Pub Golf Outing Raises $175,000 for People Affected by Cancer

September 2, 2014

Ollie O’Neill moved to the states from Dublin in 1995 and pursued his dream of bringing the Irish pub culture to his new hometown, Norwalk, CT. He opened O’Neill’s Irish Pub and Restaurant on St. Patrick’s Day of 1999. Not only did he want to provide authentic food and drinks to the community, Ollie also wanted make a lasting difference in the lives of people affected by cancer.

Ollie O’Neill at this year’s event.

“I initially wanted to do something for CancerCare because my sister was diagnosed with leukemia when she was nine,” said Ollie. “We all felt that this was a cause we wanted to help because CancerCare was right here in town and we’d heard about some of the great services. I feel that if we had had these services when we found out about my sister’s diagnosis, it would have helped quite a bit.”

In 2007, O’Neill’s Irish Pub established the first annual Golf Outing. Ollie and his team of supporters have raised an astonishing $175,000 over the past 15 years.

“We figured it was a good way to get the community involved and give back. Get out there and play, eat, drink and have fun for a good cause,” said Ollie. “It is amazing. All we do is host the event and invite people to participate. They just want to contribute. I’ve sold out every year.”

“The event that O’Neill’s Pub and Restaurant hosts each year to benefit CancerCare makes a discernible difference in the lives of people affected by cancer in the Norwalk community and beyond,” said Regional Director of the CancerCare Connecticut Office Sandra Tripodi, LCSW, ACSW. “Whether it is a person who is in need of a wig, a child who is struggling to make sense of what cancer means in their family, or someone in need of financial assistance to address treatment related barriers, we depend upon our community of support to make our free services available.”

Are interested in making a difference in the lives of people facing cancer? Get your friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, and community involved in supporting CancerCare‘s free services through Team CancerCare. There is no limit to the kinds of events you can organize.

 

 

 


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.