Monday, October 31, 2011

Caregivers: What have you done for YOU lately?

Before a plane takes off, flight attendants advise you to secure your oxygen mask first before helping others. That’s good advice. If you don’t take care of yourself, you may not be able to help those who need your help. See, when you take care of yourself, everyone benefits. The same philosophy applies to cancer caregivers.

As caregivers it’s important to maintain activities and relationships that are meaningful. Treat yourself: Take a bath. Get a massage. Listen to your favorite music. Read an uplifting or inspirational book. Enjoy the fall leaves on a walk. Take time to maintain your friendships. Caring for another does not mean giving up your own needs and desires.

Being a caregiver can be a tough job, so get support. Joining a support group like Caregiver’s Connection provides support, understanding and helpful information for caregivers. Caregiver’s Connection meets every Thursday at Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center from 2 – 3 p.m. In We’ll even have a special guest the first Thursday in January, a speaker will present on applying for disability and other financial matters. vers,

It’s also important to pamper yourself every now and again. After all, you deserve it! Join us for our 2nd Annual Caregiver’s Retreat on November 10 from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p. m. Caregivers of cancer patients will be served lunch, hear a presentation by Josephine Hicks, author of “If There’s ANYTHING I Can Do: What You Can Do When Serious Illness Strikes,” enjoy chair massages and demonstrations for yoga, tai chi and chi gong. Please let us know you’re coming! RSVP is requested by November 8 at 704-384-5223.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Metastatic Breast Cancer - Living Stronger, Living Longer

There is no doubt the face of Stage IV breast cancer is changing. With advances in treatment also comes extension of survival, to the point that a metastatic diagnosisis treated more like a chronic disease rather than a terminal diagnosis.

Because of this, the need arose for a separate support group, as those with metastatic disease felt they had different needs than women who were still hopeful for a cure. For women with primary disease (when it hasn’t spread to other parts of the body) the focus is more on cure, recovery and life after treatment. For women with metastatic cancer, their focus is different because they live with the awareness they will have this disease for the rest of their life.

A few years back, two local stage IV survivors (and, in my opinion, very empowered women), spearheaded the group that now meets once, if not twice, a month. Common topics of the group include sharing treatment information, giving tips on dealing with side effects, and offering questions to ask their doctor. These women realize their life depends on these treatments and that staying informed is empowering. In fact, they share a common goal, which is to live their best life today and continue to hope for tomorrow.

Also thanks to this group's efforts, a special educational session is being held on Oct. 13 for stage IV survivors and their families. Participants are invited and encourage to grill a panel of medical experts with as many questions as they can think of! Even better - a light dinner will be served at 6 p.m. Interested? Call to register: 704-384-5223.

This event celebrates the proclamation of Oct. 13 as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. While a lot of work still needs to be done, we're making strides toward educating the community about what it means to live with this disease.

~ Shannon, Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center