8/16 Support group meeting

Five women attended group this week. One woman shared the National Cancer Institute’s pamplet “Chemotherapy and You” and said it contained all of the questions she wished she had known to ask when she was first diagnosed and talking about treatment. This is one of a number of helpful free publications that can be downloaded from the NCI website.

Continue reading “8/16 Support group meeting”

Colorectal cancer webinar

This Sunday from 9-10 a.m. Alaska time, a webinar addressing colorectal cancer recurrence will be held by Nilofer Saba Azad, M.D. via the organization “Fight Colorectal Cancer.” They ask people to pre-register.

According to the site: “Dr. Azad is an Associate Professor of Oncology and a member of the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program within the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center (SKCCC) at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Azad is the PI of numerous early phase clinical trials in solid tumors and gastrointestinal cancers. Dr. Azad is a clinically active medical oncologist and is the co-leader of the NCI funded UM1 Developmental Therapeutics clinical research program at the SKCCC. She is a member of both the Epigenetics and Colon Cancer Stand Up 2 Cancer Dream Teams, serving as a Principal on the latter. She is a member of the NCI Colon Cancer Task Force, the Advisory Board of the Biden Cancer Initiative, and the Executive Board of The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation, among others.

“Dr. Azad’s laboratory is dedicated to translational research in drug development that will form the foundation of future clinical trials. … Her lab is currently investigating drugs that work through epigenetic mechanisms as well as epigenetic molecular differences in tumors that may change the efficacy of treatment, as well as the intersection of these agents with immunotherapy.”

Suz Fund now taking applications

The Suz Fund, which awards grants of up to $500 to cancer patients to help pay for medical bills or wellness services in Alaska, is currently accepting applications for its 3rd quarter through Sept. 15, 2019.

It’s open to anyone undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment who needs a little extra support to help with medical bills or to pursue specific wellness support. The scholarships, awarded quarterly, are given in memory of Suzanne “Suz” Marie Worthington, “to facilitate access for all cancer patients, with an emphasis on younger patients.”

Find the Suz Fund application page at https://www.thesuzfund.org/health-scholarships.

8/9 Support group meeting

Nine women attended support group today, and we had a very lively session.

One woman was new both to the group and to her diagnosis. She brought as support a friend who has previously attended our group on her own behalf. The group made her welcome and, since she is early in her treatment, gave her tips about insisting that doctors slow down and make sure she understands what they’re talking about, recording her appointments on her phone in addition to taking someone with her, and resources for taking care of herself while her doctors are busy killing her tumor. We discussed pros and cons of wigs, how they impact privacy (especially in the work place), and suggested that she might try some on as well as taking a scarf tying class to see what turns out to be the most comfortable for her.

Another member of the group announced that she is on the way out to Seattle for a second opinion. Her local oncologist is supportive of this, but she admits that she’s a little peeved he didn’t suggest it. She feels calmer about the situation now, she said, and feels as though getting a specialist opinion gives her back a better feeling of control. A member who had done something similar shared a good tip about managing her chemo schedule around her travel.

One of our summer members is leaving to go home, so there were hugs. She’ll be having a scan there to measure her ongoing response to use of one of the extremely new genetic-targeted therapies. Another member who is also on a new therapy and responding well shared that she, this being her fourth cancer, is still sort of waiting for “the other shoe to drop” even though her news is good so far. This got a lot of nods around the table.

There was general discussion that a lot of drugs that are given in a single dose aren’t really one-size-fits-all and that this is something we really need to discuss with our oncologists when the effects are disrupting our lives and comfort, so that they can be adjusted or we can have informed discussions about the risks not taking them pose.

Several of the women who attended WomenLISTEN’s fly fishing retreat this past weekend commented on what a good time they had and how much the camaraderie there meant to them—in addition to the value of getting to do something new to them.

Finally, one woman recounted a recent, very odd, very surprising dream about her cancer that had the whole table in stitches.

Weekly support for women with cancer

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and feel like you need help or just a listening ear, put Friday at 10 a.m. on your calendar. Every week at that time, we meet in the back of Title Wave Books. Women with any kind of cancer are welcome to stop by. Bring your concerns, fears, questions or triumphs. We offer respectful listening — and moderators educated in oncology, health care, and local resources.

August Schedule for Free Healing Chair Yoga

Here is the complete schedule for August Healing Chair Yoga Classes sponsored by Anchorage Radiation Therapy:

Friday August 2nd – Margo
Wednesday August 7th – Amy
Friday August 9th – Amy
Wednesday August 14th – Kerry TIME CHANGE 2:00-3:00PM
Friday August 16th – Kerry
Wednesday August 21 – Margo
Friday August 23 – Margo
Wednesday August 28 – Margo
Friday August 30 – Margo

Our classes have grown this summer and we consistently have 10-15 folks coming–HURRAY!!! Please do your best to be at class 5 minutes early to settle into our healing space. It is challenging when we have late comers with such a large group. Join us at Regional Hospital Building C, Suite 412, Cancer Center.

Reducing anxiety

The practice of yoga nidra can help reduce anxiety. Accomplished while lying down, yoga nidra does not require the challenging poses you may associate with yoga—but is all about deep relaxation.

One member keeps a yoga nidra app on her phone to help calm her before scans or follow-up appointments. Locally developed apps and classes are also available.

We’ve linked here to a good introductory article on yoga nidra. (It ends with a link to a sample audio so you can try it!) Let us know how it works for you—or what practices help you stay calm and centered.

7/26 Support Group Meeting

6 women attended including 2 new women (one with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer and another with bilateral breast cancer)

Issues discussed included:

1). Importance of hugs. Sometimes hugs seem to give one energy.

2). A good referral for incontinence is Joy Backstrum at The Physical Therapy Place. 569-5557

3). Nausea meds – how important to take them before you are nauseous. Some of these meds are available in rectal suppository form. Keep trying different meds if no improvement. Make sure you have the meds you will need before the weekend comes.

4) Lack of appetite – see a dietitian or an oncology naturopath. Jason Harmon ND tan PAMC Radiation Therapy Dept. is seeing oncology Medicare patients for free.

5) Marijuana edibles – helpful for nausea, lack of appetite? Would like more information. WomenListen is planning a talk on this topic in the fall

(Notes by Muff)