Category Archives: Cancer Club thoughts

Thinking out loud

CSN Cancer Support Groups New Mexico

Cancer Support Now’s

PEER-FACILITATED SUPPORT GROUPS

 

For contact information and details on support groups,                                                                     please call the

Helpline Telephone: 505-255-0405, toll free 855-955-3500

New groups which have transitioned over from PLTC as of April 2016 are marked with an asterisk,*.

5/2016

Advanced Diagnosis Group *

1st and 3rd Tuesday at 1:00PM

NE Heights

Blood Cancer Group *

For those dealing with a blood or lymphatic cancer

2nd and 4th Tuesday, 1:00-2:30PM

North Valley

Breast Cancer Group *

Every Wednesday 6:00-7:30PM

NE Heights

Coloring & Creativity *

All cancers, survivors and caregivers

TBA

Friends and Family Writing Together

Journaling Support Group for Grief or Anticipatory Grief

Every Thursday, 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM

UNM Cancer Center

Isleta Cancer Education and Support

2nd Tuesday of the month, 10:30-Noon

Isleta Health Clinic

Late Afternoon Breast Cancer Group

Every other Wednesday, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM

Carlisle and Comanche

LGBT Group *

All diagnoses, cancer survivors

1st and 3rd Tuesday, 6:00-7:30PM

NE Heights

North Valley Women’s Group

Every other Thursday night, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

North Valley

One-on-One Cancer Caregiver Session

One time, 90-minute Session: Resources & Support for Cancer Caregivers

Scheduled individually to accommodate the needs of the caregiver

Call Patricia at 505-307-3414

One on One Peer Cancer Support

Survivors or caregivers

Call our Helpline at 505-255-0405 or Toll Free at 855-955-3500

Seven days a week, 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM

One-on-one Peer matching 

Available through Helpline at 505-255-0405 or Toll Free at 855-955-3500

Matching with a phone buddy who has dealt with a similar diagnosis and/or challenges

Ovarian Open Arms

Third Saturday of the month, 10:30 AM

Covenant Presbyterian Church

NE Heights

Relaxation Support Classes

Open to cancer survivors and their loved ones

Call Jean Stouffer, certified hypnotherapist, 296-8423

For location, dates, time, and to register

Sandia Breast Cancer Group

1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month, 12:00 Noon to 1:00 PM

Sandia Base: Sandia Employees Only

Santa Fe Breast Cancer Group, “Surviving Sisters” *

2nd and 4th Tuesday, 4:00-5:30PM

Santa Fe

Survivors Writing Together

Journaling Support Group

Every Monday, 2:30-4:00 PM

UNM Cancer Center

Taos Support Groups *

Survivors (all cancers) Tuesdays, 5:00-6:30PM

Caregivers (all cancers) Mondays, 5:00-6:30PM

Sipapu St, Taos

Thyroid Cancer Group *

2nd Tuesday of the month, 6:30PM

North Valley

 

Prostate Cancer Support Association of New Mexico

It is an affiliated support group with CSN. Support group meetings are held 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month, meetings at Bear Canyon Senior Center.                                                  Office at 2533 Virginia St, NE Suite C Albuquerque, NM 87110
www.pcsanm.org                    (505)254-7784                   Email  pchelp@pcsanm.org

Cancer Club Thought of the Day: The Doctor Appointment

cancer club thoughts

All of us who have a serious disease that may be chronic or may be life threatening are a little nervous when we go for a doctor’s appointment.  We may get more bad news.  We may have to make another decision.  We may have an issue that requires us to be assertive, like questions about what is going on.

And here we are:   in  The Doctor’s Office. 

I do mean the place they park you after they get your weight.  It’s like being in a foreign land. I was thinking bus station, but maybe not.  There is the familiar computer. The chair for the Doc. The chair for you.  There is the exam table.  The sharps container is on the wall. There is the awful gown you are expected to put on.

First tip

The nursing  assistant takes your temp, BP and and asks all the standard questions.  Have you fallen in the last 30 days?  Do you feel safe in your home?  I do wish they would check the notes from the last visit.  She is only vaguely interested in your responses so  my first tip is to save your energy for the Doc.

Next:   Be a pro

After a few minutes, there is the knock on the door.  Your smiling, energetic doc appears on the scene.  He wants you to have a satisfying  experience with in your 20 minutes and you do have his full attention.  Tip number 2 is to seize the moment and use your time wisely.  You are now on the clock.  Being nervous at this point is easy to understand unless, of course, you are a seasoned pro yourself and know exactly what you want from this visit.

Have a plan

Start with an fact sheet of your health situation.  On it have  a summary of your disorders. For each,  list  date of onset,  dates of surgeries,  treatments,  the drugs that you are taking for each disorder.    RA drugs under the heading of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Breast Cancer drugs under the heading of breast cancer. And so on.  I also have my latest  A1C and new vaccines or tests. This fact sheet is dated and is only changed when something on the list changes. Easy. I keep the sheet  in my purse and in my journal.  I am the  leader of my medical team.  I need to know what’s going on.

It is very important to make a list

The day before my appointment I review my fact sheet.  I make a list of topics I will need to have addressed at my appointment.  I usually use a 4×6 post-it note and attach it to my fact sheet.  I prioritize the list in order of importance. I also add drugs that will need to be refilled.

Your doctor wants to help you

Prepared with  information and an  agenda, plan in place. Pen ready for notes.  My doc can now use his time to help me.  He’s not a mind reader. He doesn’t have the memory of an elephant. But he has much knowledge and can be very helpful if given the opportunity.

 

 

Cancer Club Thought of the day: how about no choice in the matter

cancer club thoughtsCathy, my very dear sister-in-law, and I were having one of our long conversations.  She is in New York.  I am here.  If we were in the same place, we would spend a lot of time together.  She was saying we have no choice but to carry on.  We were discussing difficult times and when someone says, “How’s it going?”,  she says what choice do we have but to say fine because we have to carry on.

Her husband, my brother, died of metastatic colon(appendix) cancer about two and a half years ago.  She’s had a hard time.  They were married over 40 years. They were a good fit.  Being alone has been hard for her. I am always missing my brother so it has been hard for me too.

I have two cancers.  I had to be tested, to have surgery, to have radiation treatments, to have new pills and then more doctors’ visits.  New news is shocking, life changing.  There is the adjustment period. Then  adaptation and just keep going.  With the nature of my situation, I will have more cancers.  I wondered how I will be.  I know now.  I will just proceed through a variation of the above steps and I would carry on.

That is what we all do. We go through the necessary steps and then we carry on.

Everyone says I have a great attitude. I don’t see it as a requirement to being a cancer patient. My attitude is good, in part, because I have had much intense adversity in my life.  I am used to difficult times.  My attitude is good also because I find a great deal of pleasure in the day to day.  I know how to be happy in the present moment, just like a little kid.

I carry on even though I have very difficult times. I carry on because I do in fact love the little things in life. I would miss them to much if I didn’t carry on.

 

Cancer Club thoughts-zoo music

Shaggy bleached blond at 9 years old.  He was on the heavy side but solidly built.  Beat up old sports shirt. He stood solid in his shoes. He knew who he was and where he stood in the world and was fine with it.  He had a sureness about him many adults wished they possessed. He followed the rules. He did ask his mom if it would be okay if he walked around. Off he went with his cousin, a boy who also had a devilish glint.

We are at zoo music. Paula Cole is the entertainment. Lounging in lawn chairs after a picnic of summer delights. Feeling good. Under the trees. On the grass. Surrounded by an amazing supply of people just right for people watching. Good to be with friends.

I just finished my 6th week of Cancer Rehab at the Healthplex. I am stronger. I have better balance. The program is doing what I had hoped. I am rebuilding. I will be healthier or I will have more stamina for the next round. Either way I’ll be better than I was without it.

Cancer Club thoughts-helping

Cancer victims have concrete problems.  Cancer makes a person face his mortality.  Suddenly life is no longer taken for granted.  Survival becomes an issue.  Add to that the  scary thought of the big C spreading throughout the body.  There is a feeling of loss of control. Unnerving!  Life becomes uncertain forever. Still, many cancer worries are  about everyday issues. Am I going to be able to function independently during treatment?  Where do I turn for help? How do I get to the pharmacy for prescriptions?  How to I make meals when I feel so sick?  What if I become very sick during the night, will I die alone?  How will I pay for my treatment?  Are my friends avoiding me because I have cancer? Cancer can be fatal. Some cancers can be cured. Cancer can also be a chronic condition. There are many cancers that cannot be cured but can be managed. These cancers require careful monitoring and intermittent treatment.  Cancer can recur. It can recur any time after treatment. It can recur after years of being monitored. Cancer treatment side effects can last forever. When you want to help a friend with cancer, offer concrete help. The most important help you can offer is to stay connected and be a resource for your friend.  Call your friend. Text them. You might:

  • Drive a friend to a doctor appointment or a treatment.
  • Get them out of the house for a coffee or lunch.
  • Be clearly available if they need help when they are in treatment.
  • Pick up a prescription for them.
  • Call or leave a message to say you are thinking of them.
  • Offer to help with laundry, cooking, or light housework.
  • Drive them to family events and bring them home when they are tired.
  • If you are far away, send them greeting cards.

Many cancer patients feel deserted by friends and family once the initial crisis is over.  It is frequently expected that a sick person will be treated and then will get back to normal.  Well meaning family and friends will insist that sick time is over and it is time to get back in the routine. This is not how it works with cancer.

Cancer effects are long-lasting. Extreme fatigue is common. For cancer patients, treatment and then side effects can extend over a long period of time. Physical stamina may be diminished. Finances may be devastated.

Readjusting to a new normal takes work and it takes time. The most important thing you can do to help is to stay connected. Call. Text. Send Cards. Offer specific things you are willing to do to help. Be helpful in ways that work for you. Remember there are few quick fixes for cancer.

Cancer Club thoughts for the day

It’s your fault that you have cancer. Wow! I started listening to a meditation tape on cancer given by a dear friend. The first thing this woman says on tape is it that it’s your fault you have cancer.

I was shocked. Fortunately, I don’t believe it. It was still unnerving.

Cancer starts with the change of one single cell in your body.

If you caused cancer by being stressed, by being too fat, by not eating the right things, by not exercising enough, we would all have cancer, most of us anyway. It makes the assumption that we have more control than we do.

Some people we encounter would love to think we did something wrong to get cancer. Then, the theory goes,  if they avoid that something, they will not get cancer. The randomness of cancer is all too scary.

Cancer happens. The question is not what we did wrong. The question is how do we deal with it.

 

Cancer club thoughts for today

It is amazing how the little things in our lives determine just our our day is going to be.

I’ll admit to cheap thrills. I am easy to keep happy. I love my first cup of coffee. I write in my journal and sip coffee while glancing at the colorful flower bouquet on my table. Feels good and is always a reason to jump out of bed. A good start to the day.

Some  little things that I can do for myself include having my favorite coffee; journaling daily in long hand  ( Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST WAY); buying a $4 bouquet of flowers weekly at Trader Joe’s. Small things for a woman of little energy.

I seem to have too many days where I have too little energy. I have always  been actively engaged. Feel good. Life is grand. Coping with fatigue, pain and fuzzy brain started with the sudden onset of rheumatoid arthritis and was completely foreign to me. Well, It is not a stranger anymore. My cancers seem to leave me the same way.

My love of wild life has encouraged me to feed the birds. Now I have added a water feature. Little caring things have grand results. I have a good time watching. It is hysterical to watch a Mourning Dove( mates for life, 10-15 years, apparently loves the water feature in my back yard) taking a bath in my bird bath. Sits in the water, dunks just like a duck, shakes out. Oh happy times. This is the same Dove who considers the bird feeder his favorite hangout. My gift to the birds is food and water. Their gift to me is a diversion that is one of my pleasures.

I have met many with cancer. One of their hardest adjustments to cancer is to realize there are things they cannot do anymore. This is big. This is tough. It was for me. I am eventually adaptable so I now focus on the things that I can do. There is still plenty that I can do. Makes life good!

What are the little things that you do for yourself that makes you happy ? I would like to hear from you.