Category Archives: NM Cancer Volunteers

Notable people I have met as I move through the world of cancer in Albuquerque

Sandy Ginsburg

Tiny, energetic. Warm eyes and welcoming smile. That is my first impression of Sandy Ginsburg.SANDY 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 the New Mexico Coalition for Literacy with First Lady Kathy Carruthers. She has managed the NM Arts and Crafts Fair and has been involved in the Wheels Museum.

She is married to Ron. Her daughter Sarah is a lawyer and her grandson, Mark, is well loved.

Sandy is no stranger to cancer. She was first treated for breast cancer when she was 47. She completed her treatment and thought she was done.   Breast cancer appeared in her other breast at age 50. Realizing that cancer wasn’t just going away after treatment, she pursued all the things we do when we are trying to optimize our health. Three years later another cancer appeared in a lymph node that was missed during her second cancer treatment. At this juncture, she came to the conclusion that all the things she did to help her body stay healthy were not working.  She changed gears. Determined to enjoy her life, she stopped pushing, lives normally, and is happy.

She was treated for a brain tumor in 2002.  Cured, she says. She is currently being treated for a ten-year-old Leukemia(CML) and for a three-year-old bladder cancer. Sandy amazes me.  She is the leader of our group and she is always there. Strong, smiling, good natured. She is a role model for me. She is a role model for all of us who have crossed paths with cancer.

Sandy joined People Living Through Cancer as a committee member. PLTC was founded by Catherine Logan-Carrillo as a local cancer support community. Seeing the value in PLTC, Sandy became deeply involved as a board member and then as president. When Catherine retired from PLTC and later started Cancer Support Now, Sandy joined her. Sandy is current president.

She had said her strengths were in networking, bringing people together and organization. Having seen her in action for the last year, she is right.

Sandy attends many local events and keeps connected with her many contacts.  Frequently, at committee meetings she will include a new person with interesting insights that will contribute helpful information.

Yesterday’s board meeting is characteristic of Sandy’s organization. We had a written agenda.  Members present have assignments or are on active committees.  Each was asked for progress. Meetings are informal. There is ample time for discussion. Still the agenda is covered and at the end of the meeting we know where our organization stands and what we need to do next. She’s an excellent community leader.

I asked her why she gives so much of her time to the community. She said her family has a history of community involvement and it was automatic that she should too. Simple as that.

Eleanor Schick

 

Eleanor

Eleanor

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 call themselves, and I’m happy to do that.

I support people on hospice and people who have a loved one on hospice, and I continue to support people who have lost a loved one to cancer for as long as they need, sometimes years.

Cancer often brings up issues of PTSD because new trauma tends to reawaken old trauma. I have experience with PTSD and often support people who are working through it. I have referred some with PTSD to counseling, though I continue to support them as well.

I love this work.”

It is easy to see that she does love her work.  Beyond her work at the Helpline she has so much to her credit.

  • She has written and illustrated over 30 published children’s books. When Mama Wore A Hat  was distributed free to cancer treatment centers across the country by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. It is now distributed free by Cancer Services of New Mexico in every child’s gift bag made available to all adults treated with cancer who have children in their lives.
  • She was a professional dancer in a NYC company.
  • She loves to write. She believes,”writing allows us to follow a train of thought to completion in a way that expresses an inner wisdom that isn’t available in normal conversation.”
  • For 10 years, she was a Writer in Residence in the Rio Grande Writing Project at UNM, a local site of the National Writing Project.
  • She has been a community support for many writers. She has given author talks in Children Literature classes at UNM.  She has done the same in many elementary schools around the city.
  • Her writing experience spawned the idea of writing support groups for cancer survivors and for caregivers. She and Anjie Cureton developed the two ongoing writing support groups  at UNM Cancer Center. They each meet once a week: Journaling Support Group,(caregiver, 255-0405) and Survivors Writing Together (255-0405).

Eleanor wisdom:

“I believe that cancer, even with its traumas and losses, gives us each the chance to connect with a higher wisdom in ourselves if we do the work, and if we reach out for support in it.”

It is easy to see why I like Eleanor so very much.