Author: Mary Mann

Albuquerque Cancer Family Retreat

In January of 2014 I had radiation treatment for breast cancer. Every day I would drive across town to MD Anderson Presbyterian for my treatment. As the treatment progressed, I was unable to attend my Tai Chi class. I still remember my wait time in my patient gown with fellow cancer patients with fondness. It was there I heard the personal stories of cancer and I finished my treatment with an even stronger conviction of the beauty of the human spirit. Next I had the radiation treatment for my thyroid cancer. The diet, the thyrogen shots, the radioactive swallow, the isolation, the inflamed salivary glands. Now all done. Next I signed up for The Family Retreat sponsored by the Cancer Services of New mexico. I received the application. My oncologist, Dr Bernard Agbemadzo, signed off on it. I mailed it in not expecting to be approved.  I was approved. I am in the second picture on their web home page. The Family retreat is a three-day event full of information for those with cancer and …

Sandy Ginsburg

Tiny, energetic. Warm eyes and welcoming smile. That is my first impression of Sandy Ginsburg. She is President of Cancer Support Now, a grass roots cancer survivor organization that believes no one has to go through cancer alone whether as a survivor or caregiver, whatever their needs may be. As CSN’s leader she lives this core belief every single day. I met Sandy for a leisurely summer lunch at the Indigo Crow in Corrales. We see each other at board meetings and committee meetings. It was nice to have her all to myself with no distractions. A surprise to me, Sandy was a reporter for many years. She worked for the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, based in Washington, D C. She also worked for the Institute for Social Research which is the world’s largest academic social science survey and research organization at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In New Mexico, she worked for Dr. Hal Rhodes, chairman of the Political Science Department at UNM. She was involved in establishing …

Eleanor Schick

  I instantly liked Eleanor when I met her. She pays attention to you when you are speaking to her. She cares,  is thoughtful and helpful. She manages the Cancer Support Now Helpline which is available seven days a week for those in the community who need answers to questions about their or a family member’s cancer.   She is available 9 am to 9 pm 7 days a week by calling: 505-255-0405 or 855-955-3500. This is what she told me about her work with the helpline: “I refer callers, whether caregivers or patient/survivors to groups, or to one on one support or when neither seems appropriate I provide support to them in the moment, and on an ongoing basis, and whenever they need, sometimes for years. Though cancer issues are what prompts someone  to make the first call, supporting them becomes whatever they need…whether its referrals to other providers, or ongoing emotional support…about cancer but also about anything. There are some people who need support but ask me to please call them regularly, rather than initiating the …

Childhood leukemia success, a bit of history

Freireich and Frei became unlikely partners when they went to work at the National Cancer Institute in 1955.  They were opposites in personality, but they were miracle workers on the leukemia ward. At that time the death rate for childhood leukemia was 90%.  Children were bleeding to death.  Freireich and Frei were first to do something about the falling levels of platelets in these children. Against resistance, when the NCI’s blood bank refused to give them blood for the necessary transfusions, they sought blood elsewhere. They got the blood, transfused the children and the results were notable. Freireich and Frei  decided that using multiple chemotherapy medications would be more effective than one medication at a time.  Again, they were seriously accused of being cruel to children. They went ahead with their idea. They started using a cocktail of four medications. Children began to survive. Unfortunately, eventually the cancer came back. Next Freireich and Frei decided that they needed to give their chemo cocktail for an entire year. Even though they had been so successful with their innovations, …

Conversation for NM Cancer Girls in July

        Admitting that we  have thoughts about  death when we are diagnosed with cancer,          is both a gift for ourselves and a gift from our family. Once cancer strikes we are  at risk. For many our cancers can be cured.                                                                                                     For others, cancer hangs out in our bodies until it becomes center stage again.                             For some cancer  becomes a losing battle. When the battle is finally lost, I have seen angry women become peaceful. Not having to constantly strive, they can rest. They can start thinking about their end. They might start to plan. They are relieved they no longer have to fight. They were exhausted. Now they can relax. As our cancer …

Cancer Support Now Conference time

I was selling raffle tickets for our chocolate gift basket♥. Guests were choosing items from the breakfast table. Others were meeting old friends; starting new friendships registration packets in hand.  Sandy♥ was on the stage ready to welcome everyone. Dr Michael Linver♥ would be arriving soon for the keynote. I stood there talking with a woman who has been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She had the surgery a few weeks ago and would be having radiation next. Her experience had been such a whirlwind that she was still absorbing what had happened to her. She was looking for answers. And she wanted to feel that she was not the only one. She was tentative. But she was here. She was me one year ago. One year ago I had completed breast cancer radiation three months before  and thyroid cancer radiation one month before. The conference was new to me. It was a port in the storm.  Kind faces not in scrubs. Welcoming. Informative. A chance to speak out. A chance to hear and be heard. I was …

Cancer Support Now

Go to the Cancer Support Now website and check the Spring Conference and a wonderful local cancer support organization right here in ABQ.                      http://cancersupportnow.org/  Announcing  Fourth  Annual Long Term Effects of Cancer Survivorship Conference March 28, 2015   8:30 am to 4:30 pm at Central United Methodist Church   in Albuquerque The Conference includes 4 breakout sessions  held twice, morning & afternoon 1. Fatigue/Sleep Issues 2. Lymphedema 3. Creative Movement/Visual Art an interactive, experiential session 4. End of Life Planning and Support Keynote sessions: The Morning  keynote speaker is  Michael N. Linver, MD, FACR. Dr. Linver is a busy lecturer on mammography, having presented over 900 talks throughout the United States and in over 20 countries around the world. The Lunch keynote session is a panel of experts on rehabilitation topics of concern to post-treatment survivors and their caregivers. Location: Central United Methodist Church, 201 University Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM 1 block north of Central For more information call 505.307.3414 ore-mail ptorn@comcast.net Registration is required & opens mid-February  

A marked woman

Radiation treatment follows certain protocols. My treatment is at the MD Anderson satellite here in Albuquerque. After meeting with the radiation oncologist, Dr. G, I have my simulation appointment. This includes a CT scan, painting on the bull’s eyes with magic marker and tape, measuring for an arm mold for placement. My breast is bare to three people. Since it has already had a mammogram, an ultrasound, a stereotactic core biopsy, wire placement and surgery, it is beginning to feel like community property and is no longer shy. Now it has war paint so is feeling pretty bold. Next the experts will do their calculations, the mold will be made and I will be ready to go with the three week plan plus a extra week to zap the surgical site. This means treatments five days a week and with the extra week, it will be four weeks or twenty treatments. My choices were the standard six week plan, the three week plan at double dose or the one week plan that includes inserting a …

Presbyterian Cancer Education Series 6 week workshop

Workshops   Silver Linings Survivorship Services: bring out the best you through exercise Funded by Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation Presbyterian Kaseman Hospital, 8300 Constitution Ave NE, ABQ, NM 87110   www.phs.org Six week program, 2 hours. All sessions include stretching and journaling. Each week is themed with an expert speaker. Intro, lymphedema, fatigue and activities of daily living, nutrition and dietary considerations, peripheral neuropathy and cognitive impairment, long term side effects and exercise. Excellent program. Informative and helpful. Well worth it. We all agreed that we learned a lot. Gretl Berneart OTR/L, CLT-LANA                           Ada Portman, MPT, CLT                  Ann Mustoe, RN ONS Jan Esparza, RD                  Monica Bartley, Exercise Specialist I understand that this program will be repeated.  Contact 505-559-8761 to find out more about the workshop