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Archive for March, 2008

Financial help

Financial help for people with cancer – pamphlet listing resources and contact information in a PDF file from Cancer Care

One of the resources that was hardest for me to find (and one of the most important things for rural women) was transportation to doctor appointments and treatment.  Were there pools of volunteers who could drive on the days I wasn’t feeling well enough to drive myself?  (My doctors and the nearest radiation treatment center are 2.5 hours one way.)  Is there a shuttle bus? How much does it cost? (I learned it cost $150 per trip.  Five days a week for six weeks at $150?  That wasn’t going to be an option.)  Is there financial assistance to help with this cost? 

Finding these kinds of resources can be very difficult. We need to have lists of these resources and information in our local clinics and hospitals. I am working with an advocacy group to get this information to newly diagnosed cancer patients in my community.

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Online advocacy training

National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship provides online training on how to become a legislative advocate.  Check it out here.

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Survivor toolbox

Cancer survivors who write about their thoughts and feelings may improve the quality of their lives, according to a study covered in a New York Times blog on February 26, 2008. The study, which appeared in The Oncologist, found that cancer patients who wrote about their emotions experienced benefits immediately after the exercise, and that the positive effects remained three weeks later.

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“Studies show that nearly a quarter of cancer patients will have symptoms of depression or an anxiety disorder during treatment. However, feelings of anger or sadness about your cancer and the changes it brings are normal and may actually help you cope.  . . .  The National Comprehensive Cancer Network www.nccn.org has developed systematic distress management guidelines that can be used by health care professionals as a screening tool.  (NCCN experts chose the word distress rather than depression because they felt the term carried less stigma and more accurately described patients’ emotional states.) . . ”  Cure Magazine

The article suggests that for these people, support groups, buddy systems and cancer education programs are useful to help patients gain a sense of competence and control.

Support groups and other support systems may be laking in rural areas. Self- and community advocacy should include identifying this need and helping to encourage the formation of support groups.  Should support groups be facilitated? Experts think that facilitated groups are more helpful. How do we get facilitators for these groups?  Call the cancer advocacy programs that serve your area and ask them how funds raised in your community are spent and urge them along with your local clinic and hospital to provide a facilitated group in your area.

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“Labels about cancer can lead us to guilt, which can be a huge burden for newly diagnosed patients. You may feel guilty about causing your cancer, about having your family go through it, or about not being able to do what you did before, if only for a short time.  . . .

It’s not unusual to try and find an answer to why your cancer developed, but focusing on the cause can lead to additional stress. A recent study of women newly diagnosed with breast cancer showed those who blamed themselves for their cancer experienced higher levels of distress than those who didn’t. The findings also suggest self-blame negatively affects a patients’ ability to psychologically adjust throughout the year following diagnosis.

. . . you have the capability to stop blaming and judging yourself by realizing you cannot change the past, and must concentrate on moving forward. Guilt is a barrier to living your life fully . . . .” Cure Magazine.

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attitude.gif“As you begin to tell others about your diagnosis, you may feel pressure to maintain a positive attitude, which can be especially difficult when you are scared, anxious, or not feeling well. False optimism is unrealistic, and experts say feeling that you are not ‘doing cancer right’ can be a huge burden. No compelling evidence exists that emotional outlook affects survival, yet people unaffected by cancer often expect and encourage those with the disease to exhibit a positive approach despite how they are really feeling.

 (On the other hand) . . . . .”People, as well as their reactions to cancer, can differ greatly. For some, maintaining a positive attitude is their preferred method of coping.”  – From Dealing With Emotion: How to recognize normal reactions at diagnosis and when you need help. Cure Magazine.

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Sign up deadlines will start running soon for this program so check it out!

Casting for Recovery provides fly fishing retreats at locations around the United States. Retreats are specifically designed for women who have or have had breast cancer.

Fly Fishing – “A Sport for Life” We enhance the lives of breast cancer survivors by offering no-cost retreats tailored to promote and support mental and physical healing, shared experiences, and the hope that comes from learning new skills.

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