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.
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.”
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
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.”
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.
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).
June 26, 2014
Thirty families recently joined together to spend the weekend at CancerCare’s Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp – a retreat for those coping with the loss of a loved one to cancer. The camp combines fun activities such as swimming and horseback riding with therapeutic grief activities.
“The camp is a place where the families can come together and not feel different. They meet others who have experienced a similar loss and they don’t have to explain anything to one another; they can just come together and have fun,” said Kathy Nugent, MSW, LCSW, CancerCare director of social service. “There are a lot of tears, but there is also so much laughter. They’ve all found new friends – people that understand. Our hope is that they all made a lasting connection.”
This year’s camp featured a butterfly theme, focusing on metamorphosis and healing. Families were given the opportunity to create butterfly collages honoring their loved ones and ended the weekend with a ceremonial butterfly release.
The sixth annual camp was held at Malibu Dude Ranch in Milford, PA from June 13 through June 15. The free retreat was made possible by our dedicated supporters at Eisai.
You can view more photos from the Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp or watch a video of the song, “Fly Butterfly Fly,” written and performed by Meaghan Farrell, Andy McNamara and teens at the camp.
February 20, 2014
The field of oncology is constantly redefining treatment approaches and options to improve the standard of care for people everywhere. In a field that is rapidly making innovative advances, we are fortunate to stay aware of new discoveries in oncology through modern technology.
February is National Cancer Prevention Month, the perfect time to recognize how developments in oncology, coupled with technology, have impacted the lives of people living with cancer, caregivers and health professionals. A person’s geographic location or financial situation are no longer barriers. Mobile apps and health-focused websites allow instant access to topics such as cancer screenings, research updates and risk factors.
A prime example is simply picking up the telephone and joining one of CancerCare’s Connect Education Workshops™. Whether participants listen to a live or archived Connect Education Workshop™, they will hear compassionate experts in oncology provide the latest medical advances from the convenience of their own home or office. The comprehensive educational workshops have evolved with technology to include a webcast component, accessible online via podcast, and telephone replay.
CancerCare’s easy-to-read fact sheets and educational booklets, written by experts, can be ordered online, over the phone or viewed on our website. Like all of CancerCare’s services, our workshops, fact sheets and booklets are free of charge.
In recognition of National Cancer Prevention Month, we encourage you to visit CancerCare’s workshop and publication webpages for up-to-date information from leading experts in oncology. The first and foremost step to cancer prevention is knowledge.
Guest blogger Sarah Quinlan is the Senior Education Technical and Marketing Coordinator at CancerCare.
November 22, 2013
Holidays are meant to be joyful times that create good memories. But for caregivers of people with cancer, it can be challenging to keep up with the preparations that often come with celebrating holidays along with juggling caregiving responsibilities such as taking a loved one to treatment. Many times, friends and community members may want to help out, but are unsure of where to begin.
MyCancerCircle.net is an online tool created by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in collaboration with CancerCare to help caregivers create their own community of support. The tool allows caregivers to coordinate volunteer activities such as cooking meals or transporting a loved one to appointments. My Cancer Circle™ also provides a private space where members can offer words of support and encouragement. To learn more about My Cancer Circle or to create a community to support a loved one facing cancer, visit www.MyCancerCircle.net.
Learn how to create a community of support from leading experts by listening to the podcast, My Cancer Circle: A Support Network for Caregivers. You can also read our fact sheet, “Building a Community of Support.” Order free copies online at http://www.cancercare.org/publications/order.
You may also find it helpful to review our resources on coping with cancer and caregiving during holidays and special events.
CancerCare provides free services specifically for caregivers, including support groups (available face to face, over the phone, and online), publications and Connect Education Workshops™. View all of CancerCare’s free services for caregivers.
July 20, 2013
Caregivers provide important emotional and physical care for a person with cancer. Their responsibilities may include helping a loved one with daily activities such as getting to the doctor or preparing meals. They may also be tasked with managing finances and paperwork while keeping up with day-to-day family and work responsibilities.
Many times, friends and community members want to help, but are unsure of where to begin.
MyCancerCircle.net is an online tool created by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in collaboration with CancerCare to help caregivers create their own community of support. The tool allows caregivers to coordinate volunteer activities such as cooking meals or transporting a loved one to appointments. My Cancer Circle also provides a private space where members can offer words of support and encouragement.
To learn more about My Cancer Circle™ or to create a community to support a loved one facing cancer, visit www.MyCancerCircle.net.
Learn how to create a community of support from leading experts by listening to the podcast “My Cancer Circle: A Support Network for Caregivers.”
CancerCare provides free services specifically for caregivers, including support groups (available face to face, over the phone, and online), publications and Connect Education Workshops.
View all of CancerCare’s free services for caregivers. My Cancer Circle is a trademark of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.