Tuesday, April 22, 2014

~ Twelve years of service to Lake County cancer patients ~

In 2001 Judy and Mitchell Kinsel moved to Polson. Mitchell was battling brain cancer. They found that life would be easier if Judy had someone  to pick up groceries, run errands, walk the dogs or sit with Mitchell while she was away. After Mitchell died Judy carried through on their idea to establish a non-profit organization of volunteers for the primary purpose of helping patients and their families with the every day tasks of life.

Judy established Cheerful Heart, Inc. At first the officers of the organization were family members. In 2002 Linda Graven, Valerie Lindstrom and Mac Binger joined Judy on the board of directors. The organization received its 501 C3 status in June 2002 and went to work.

The Montana Cancer Center established the Polson Oncology Clinic in the Grandview Clinic building just west of the hospital in 2001. Cheerful Heart became a presence at the Tuesday clinic  connecting with patients to provide a helping hand.  CH found quilt makers to make “a warm gift of love” to keep patients comfortable as they received treatment.

Through the past 12 years CH services have grown and changed. The number of volunteers who give time, energy and love to cancer patients has remained stable. Volunteers connect with patients and their families at the clinic each Tuesday providing and serving soup and other refreshments. Conversation flows and laughter is easy in the caring atmosphere.

In addition to help with every day tasks and clinic support, CH services now include the Wigs, Hats & Scarves Program, a lending library, a Cancer Support Group and the Cheerful Touch Program. Cheerful Touch was established in 2012 after cancer survivor Renee Bassett followed-through on her wish to give back. Cheerful Touch services are free to cancer patients and include massage, hair and skin care, manicures and pedicures.  Renee Bassett and fellow beauticians will work from Salon Envy on 7th Street. Massage therapists are located in Polson and Charlo. Patients can get a massage either in the therapist’s business or at home. (see article on page 2)

The clinic moved to the third floor of St. Joseph Medical Center in 2005, and in 2009-10 the space was remodeled and became the Otto G. Klein Memorial Cancer Center. Cheerful Heart, Inc. donated $10,000 to the remodel project. The waiting room includes a kitchen area which gives CH work space.  A wigs, hats and scarves inventory exists to give patients a head covering for warmth, hair or adding a splash of color.

Today’s Cheerful Heart has grown but the mission remains the same, to provide free non-medical services for Lake County cancer patients.  Anyone who needs a service or would like to be part of this giving organization can call the message line 883-3070.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Clinic Change

Montana Cancer Center (MCC) established the Polson Oncology Clinic in 2001. Oncologists and chemotherapy drugs traveled from Missoula to Polson every Tuesday. Physicians at MCC operate as Montana Cancer Specialists.

In July 2013 Providence St. Joseph Medical Center (SJMC) became responsible for the clinic and contracted with MCC to provide an oncologist each week. Chemotherapy drugs are now provided by the SJMC pharmacy. Clinic staff members continue to be SJMC employees.

The change was a financial decision. Hospitals are reimbursed at a better rate for chemotherapy drugs than are private clinics. Dr. Linda Ries replaced Dr. Patrick Beatty who continues as a Montana Cancer Specialist (MCS) at Community Medical Center in Missoula. Dr. William Nichols was the first  MCS doctor to make the trip to Polson.

Hospitals must meet stricter safety standards than private clinics which means that patients have experienced a few minor physical changes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

~ Cancer Support Group Update ~

The current Cheerful Heart Cancer Support Group is a group of folks who share and listen to each other.  They often meet while getting treatment at the Oncology Clinic, but that is not always the case. Friends and family members of patients who have been part of the group often drop in to reconnect.

Linda Roberts and Jim Zadra met FIVE years ago while both were getting treatment for colon cancer. Linda found Jim, who had been getting treatment since 2006, was a good source of information. Their friendship has strengthened through the years. Linda and Jim are a vital part of the Cancer Support Group.

“We are not about doom and gloom,”  Linda says,  “we are all about living. We are not a boring group, we have a good time.”  The group meets from noon to 1 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of the month.  They can often be found later at a local restaurant enjoying lunch together.  The support group meets at the United Methodist Church located at 301 16th Ave. E. in Polson.  Attendance can vary from two to 10 depending on the day.  Drop in !!!

Organizer Tammy Walston, a breast cancer survivor and Cheerful Heart, board member, says the support group aims” to provide a warm and safe place for people to share their thoughts and experiences.”  Gatherings are informal allowing folks to drop-in when schedules and life permits