Monday, September 25, 2023

Cancer Support Group Welcomes All

A cancer support group comes together from noon to 1 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month in the Chapel at St. Joseph Medical Center. The Cheerful Heart Cancer Support Group is for anyone affected by cancer and is led by Pastor Matthew Connally of the Ronan/Polson Nazarene Church. The Chapel is located inside the front entrance to the hospital.

The group welcomes those recently diagnosed, those undergoing treatment, cancer survivors, and/or family members. The group aims is to provide a safe place
for members to share, learn, support, and encourage members after a cancer diagnosis; and, to conquer the fear in themselves and others. Confidentiality is practiced, anything spoken in group stays with the group.

Gatherings are informal allowing folks to drop-in when schedules and life permits. Folks can bring a brown bag lunch.

Cheerful Heart, an organization of volunteers who provide non-medical services for cancer patients in Lake County since 2002, sponsors the support group.
Questions can be directed to Cheerful Heart message line at 883-3070. Please leave the best time and day to receive a return call in the message. Check out the Cheerful Heart web site at or email Mailing address is Cheerful Heart, P.O. Box 688, Polson, MT 59860.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Yoga Can Help Cancer Patients Cut the Risk of Disease Spreading or Returning: Study

Having a twice-a-week yoga practice has recently been shown to be effective at reducing symptoms of fatigue in people with cancer, as well as reducing the likelihood of a beaten cancer from returning.
18 million people around the world develop various forms of cancer every year, and it’s well known that physical inactivity increases the risk of getting cancer.
On top of that, it’s known that most forms of exercise prevent it—the same is true for yoga, which was just the subject of an investigation by what the Guardian newspaper called “the world’s leading cancer researchers.”
Three studies presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the world’s largest cancer conference, together suggest that prescribing rest for a patient suffering from low energy levels or fatigue is not the best health measure. (Read)

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Keeping You Informed: Chemotherapeutic Medication Shortages


Providence distributed this information during the week of June 5, 2023

The below information is intended to inform you about shortages with certain chemotherapy agents and other oncology-related medications.

Why are we raising this concern?

• There is a critical shortage of about 300 drugs affecting hospitals and care facilities across the U.S. right now, including Providence St. Patrick Hospital and Providence St. Joseph Medical Center.

• Chemotherapy and oncology-related medications are especially impaed by these shortages.

• Medications such as Carboplatin, Cisplatin, Fluorouracil, Capecitabine, Abiraterone, Docetaxel, Doxorubicin, Fludarabine, Methotrexate, Vincristine, and many others have been or may become affected. 

How are we responding to these medication shortages?

• Providing you with safe, high-quality care is our top priority. Making you aware of this issue is important as we work with you and the rest of the care team on possible alternatives.

• Providence Montana and our partners are exploring strategies to secure additional supply of these medications. We are also engaged in advocacy efforts to find long-term solutions and prevent recurrences in the future.

• Treatment plans may be modified after careful review by the care team and discussion with you. These modifications will be individualized to you and will only be made if it is clinically appropriate and safe to do so.

• We are committed to the fair and equitable treatment of all our patients. Only medical factors such as disease type, stage, and prior treatment are being considered in the selection of which patient’s regimen may be impacted.

• Options for modifications in the treatment plan may include a decrease from the usual dosage or substitution of an alternative agent, when possible. 

• Our care team will reach out to you if your treatment plan may need to be modified.

• We will be with you every step of the way and will work to ensure you continue to receive the best care.

Friday, June 9, 2023

Cancer Doctors Rethink Aggressive Treatments

A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying, not just because the disease is life-threatening but also because treatments — chemotherapy, radiation and surgery — are often brutal to endure. But doctors are now rethinking those aggressive methods, The Wall Street Journal reported. They're increasingly looking to "de-escalation," an approach of "cutting back on some therapies to improve a patient's quality of life without hurting their odds of survival."

One new study shows that more than 10,000 rectal cancer patients a year could forgo radiation therapy and do just as well, The New York Times reported, though they would still need chemotherapy and surgery. Dr. Eric Winer, the president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), said researchers "are asking if there are elements of successful treatments that can be eliminated to provide patients with a better quality of life." A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying, not just because the disease is life-threatening but also because treatments — chemotherapy, radiation and surgery — are often brutal to endure. But doctors are now rethinking those aggressive methods, The Wall Street Journal reported. They're increasingly looking to "de-escalation," an approach of "cutting back on some therapies to improve a patient's quality of life without hurting their odds of survival." (Read more)

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Christopher Williams joins St. Joe’s staff

 Surgeon specializes in breast care    

Calvin, Christopher, Anna and Otis

Christopher Williams is a man of many interests. He earned his undergraduate degree in music from University of Georgia in 2003. He taught elementary school music  in Gainesville, gave saxophone lessons and played various gigs around town.

As an outdoor enthusiast he was guiding adventure trips in Alaska in 2007. He was required to be an EMT, his first exposure to medicine, and it stirred his interest. During 2007-2008 he took prerequisites at University of Georgia to qualify for medical school.

Christopher was commissioned as an officer in the Air Force in 2009. He spent four years at Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Georgia before moving to Salt Lake City where he completed his surgical internship and residency at the University of Utah Hospital between 2013 and 2018. He found the program in Utah to be a good blend of excellent surgical training and research opportunities. 

As an active duty Air Force general surgeon Christopher worked at David Grant Medical Center on the Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California from 2018 to 2022. He was deployed to Afghanistan from March of 2021 to October of 2021. He completed his service commitment in June of 2022, was discharged from the Air Force and hired as a general surgeon at St. Joseph Medical Center.

As an Air Force general surgeon thirty percent of his surgeries involved breast care for both benign breast diseases and breast cancer. His patients included retirees and VA patients. He has significant experience with breast conservation surgery, sentinel lymph node biopsy, mastectomy and axillary dissections. 

Christopher has deep experience in breast cancer management. He feels comfortable taking care of surgical patients here in Polson without sending them to Missoula or Kalispell. His goal is to become a solid trustworthy healthcare provider in our community. He is quick to say, however, that he will refer if necessary.

In addition to breast care, his professional interests include trauma, complex laparoscopy, endoscopy, hernia repair, reflux, diseases of the abdomen and alimentary tract including the colon and small intestine, as well as skin and soft tissue surgical diseases. 

He enjoys spending time with his family. He married Anna Ruminer in 2015 and their two boys are Calvin, 4, and Otis, 2.  Christopher loves trail running, skiing, fishing, hiking, biking, and anything else that gets him outside. At home, he likes listening to music and cooking.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Landon Godfrey joins Cheerful Heart Board of Directors

Photos: Cheerful Heart Board of Directors top photo from left Valerie Lindstrom, Teri Warford, Barbara Morin, Sarah Teaff and Landon Godfrey. Bottom from left Jeanne Doepke and Leah Emerson. 
. . . . . . .

Landon Godfrey joined the Cheerful Heart Board of Directors in June of 2022. Landon says, “I decided to join the Cheerful Heart board as I am inspired by the commitment provided to our patients through the humble service of our volunteers. Like many others, cancer has affected my family greatly and I appreciate how much we can heal others through something as simple as holding a hand to something more complicated such as arranging transportation for an appointment.”

Landon grew up in Roundup, Montana. This upbringing inspired him to seek out small town living where “humility and kindness overpowers the prestige and speed of city life.”  He lived with his grandparents, even though in their mid-80’s, they remained active. He met their friends as they gathered to enjoy the dance floor in their home. Landon’s grandfather was a drummer with the dance band.

He attended college at Montana State University pursuing a  Computer Science degree, but after a year decided he needed more interaction with people. He switched to Doctor of Pharmacy to help people like his grandparents.

Pharmacy provided him with an opportunity to better understand health care. His plan changed when he was approached about the Director of Operations position at St. Joseph Medical Center, a position he has held for 10 years.

Yoga to Support Your Mind/Body

By Sharon McGuire
500 RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher with 500+ hours of yoga training) 

My mom was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma six years ago. I remember that day in the hospital as if it were yesterday. My siblings, our dad and I sat in stunned silence as the doctor gave us the news. Shock, worry, anger and fear flooded my body with hormones that overwhelmed my emotions, and I couldn’t even begin to imagine what my mother was feeling. 
A week later, I attended my first Yoga Nidra (sleep-based                    meditation) class. My spirit was overwhelmed with grief from the        possibility of losing my mother as I lay down on my yoga mat to            enter this practice. That class shifted the course of my life.      Afterwards, I left with a deep sense of peace and relaxation I had never experienced. 

I attended yoga classes for about a year when “it” happened. I didn’t understand much about yoga and the benefits. It was just a nice exercise class where I met some lovely ladies who would become life-long friends. After my experience with Yoga Nidra, I was determined to deepen my yoga practice and pass along what I learned to support my mom in her journey with cancer.

When trauma occurs, whether it’s physical such as an accident, or emotional such as being given a cancer diagnosis, it becomes “an undigested, undischarged energy event that continues to affect the body/mind complex at all levels, physical, mental, emotional and perceptual, after the event has actually passed,” (Kamani Desai, PhD, author of Yoga Nidra: The Art of Transformational Sleep). Our bodies move into a fight, flight or freeze response which hijacks the body systems and floods the body with stress hormones adversely affecting the immune system and lowering the body’s inflammation response. 

Yoga/Yoga Nidra supports bringing the body systems back into balance by releasing calming substances such as GABA, serotonin, oxytocin, DHEA, endorphins and melatonin into the body accompanying the feelings of relaxation and well-being. This balance is important to support immune health, improve sleep and reduce worry, anxiety and depression. After practicing Yoga Nidra with my mother, she told me she was sleeping better and had improvements in her digestive system. 
. . . . . . . . .

The following restorative yoga poses and breath practices are an excellent way to begin exploring how yoga can support your journey with cancer. As with any yoga practice, hear my words, but listen to your body. If any of these instructions bring a source of pain, modify the instructions, or do not do the pose.

Lying down meditation supports the immune system and allows the body to release good hormones: Lying on the floor on your back you may want to support your knees with a pillow or rolled up blanket or towel. if laying on the floor is not comfortable, finding a comfortable seated position in a chair will work as well. Use blankets or pillows to support any part of the body that may need it. The goal is to be completely relaxed.Rest your hands gently on your abdomen or chest whatever feels the most comfortable. Closing your eyes or having a soft gaze so you are not focused on any one thing, begin to bring your attention to the breath. Notice how the chest and abdomen rise and fall with each inhale and exhale. Continue to notice any sensations  that may arise in the body as you continue to focus on the breath.Without effort, slowly begin to lengthen your exhalation so it takes the breath longer to leave the body than it did to come in. Continue for a few breaths and then allow the breath to return to normal. 

Seated spinal twist supports the digestive system: Sitting on the floor with the legs crossed or stretched out in front of you. Breathe deeply and feel your sit bones connected to the floor. Inhale, and as you exhale slowly twist the torso to the right, placing your left hand on the right knee and the right hand behind the back looking over the right shoulder. Hold the pose for three deep breaths, return to the center position and repeat on the left. Do 3-5 rounds on each side.                                     

Reclined bound-angle pose helps to reduce stress and fatigue: Sitting on the floor, draw the bottoms of the feet together to create a diamond shape. The feet can be closer or further from the body depending on your comfort level. If the knees are resting up in the air, you can support them by using yoga blocks (if you have them) or by simply placing pillows or rolled up blankets or towels under the knees. Slowly begin to lie back using the support of your arms until your body reaches the floor. Rest your arms a comfortable distance from the body. Once in the pose, begin to breathe deeply, following the breath practice for the lying down meditation. Stay in the posture for at least five deep breaths or as long as your body feels comfortable.                                        

Legs up the wall combats fatigue: Sitting with your left side next the wall. Turning to the left, slowly bring your legs up the wall as you lower your body to the floor. Scoot your buttocks next to the wall and allow the head and shoulders to rest on the floor. If you feel your legs are going to open too wide, you can place a strap, belt, or tied scarf above the knees so you can let the legs relax. You can also modify this posture by placing the legs on a chair with the knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Breathe deeply as in the first pose. 

Sharon McGuire with the Brahman Priest at the 
Krupalu Maharaj Ashram in Malav, Gurjurat, India in 2020.

Sharon McGuire, a Certified Advanced Yoga Nidra Facilitator, 

teaches at YogaHeart Home, 

208 Ridgewater Drive, Polson. 

Contact info: (812) 345-0639,

Friday, May 27, 2022

Cheerful Heart Cancer Support Group meets 2nd & 4th Wednesdays

The Cheerful Heart Cancer Support Group for anyone affected by cancer will meet from noon to 1 p.m.,  on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month, in the Leahy Conference Room on the third floor at St. Joseph Medical Center. Rev. John Payne will lead the group.

The group welcomes those recently diagnosed, those undergoing treatment, cancer survivors, and/or family members. The group aims is to provide a safe place for members to share, learn, support, and encourage members after a cancer diagnosis; and, to conquer the fear in themselves and others. Confidentiality is practiced, anything spoken in group stays with the group.

Gatherings are informal allowing folks to drop-in when schedules and life permits. Brown-bag lunches are welcome.

The Support Group originated in 2009 and met regularly for 11 years before a pandemic hiatus. Questions about the group can be directed to Valerie 406-261-3304.

Cheerful Heart, an organization of volunteers that has provided non-medical services to cancer patients in Lake County since 2002, sponsors the support group. Cheerful Heart does not charge for the services that it provides. For general questions about Cheerful Heart call 883-3070 or email

Monday, April 25, 2022

Nutrition and Cancer: Where to Start?

by Lauren Galush, Dietetic Intern St. Luke Community Healthcare 

Lauren Galush
Nutrition is important for everyone, but especially those living with cancer. Cancer treatments can cause symptoms that make eating difficult, such as nausea, loss of appetite, change in taste, or a sore mouth. If these symptoms develop people often lose weight without trying. For this reason this is not a time for dieting or trying to lose weight. Paying special attention to your nutrition is key to keeping your body strong and healthy during and after treatment. If one is available to you, speaking with a Registered Dietitian (RD) can ensure you’re getting enough of the right things. If you find yourself with any complications that make eating difficult, following some of the suggestions below may help. 

Loss of Appetite (anorexia):

  • Focus on foods that are high in protein and calories. Even if you are only able to eat a few bites, this will ensure you get more “bang for your buck.” 
  • Sneak protein and calorie sources in where you can. This may look like adding protein powder to oatmeal or having full-fat dairy products
  • Eat protein portions of your meal first to ensure you’re getting enough protein 
  • Eat foods that smell good to you 
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals during the day, such as three small meals and three snacks. 
  • If solid foods don’t sound appetizing, drink milkshakes, smoothies, or nutrition drinks/shakes
  • Have your favorite foods on hand so they are ready to eat when you’re hungry 
  • Be active if you’re able. Even a 15-minute walk can stimulate your appetite 

Nausea or Vomiting: 

  • Eat foods that sound good to you- don’t force yourself to eat foods that make you feel sick
  • Avoid eating your favorite foods when you feel sick, so you don’t associate them with sickness
  • Eat foods that are soft, bland, and easy on your stomach (ex: white toast, plain yogurt, broth)
  • Avoid food or drinks with strong smells
  • Eat five to six small meals in a day rather than three large meals 
  • Sit upright for an hour after eating
  • Wear clothes that are loose and comfortable

Dry Mouth: 

  • Eat foods that are easy to swallow. Moisten them with sauces, gravies, or salad dressings if you need.
  • Have foods/drinks that are very sweet or tart (ex: lemonade)- this will help make more saliva
  • Chew gum or suck on hard candy, ice chips, or popsicles 
  • Avoid foods that hurt your mouth, such as spicy, sour, salty, hard, or crunchy foods. 

Mouth Sores: 

  • Eat softer foods, such as milkshakes, pudding, or scrambled eggs
  • Suck on ice chips or popsicles to numb your mouth 
  • Avoid foods that may irritate your mouth: 
    • Acidic foods- tomatoes, oranges, lemons, limes
    • Spicy foods
    • Salty foods
    • Raw vegetables
    • Sharp or crunchy foods
    • Alcoholic beverages 

Taste Changes: 

  • Try poultry, eggs, and cheese instead of red meat. Sometimes eating meat with something sweet can help
  • Add spices and sauces to foods
  • Use sugar-free lemon drops, gum drops, or mints if there is a metallic or bitter taste in your mouth
  • Use plastic utensils instead of metal ones

Sunday, March 20, 2022

 Cheerful Heart offers personal care services for Lake County cancer patients

Cheerful Heart reaches out to Lake County cancer patients by offering personal care in the form of massages, skin, nail and hair care, at no charge to the patient. The personal care program, Cheerful Touch, includes local cosmetologists and massage therapists. Patients should consult with their doctors before using these services. Massage therapists may be able to travel to the patient’s home if necessary.

Cheerful Heart, Inc. has served cancer patients in Lake County since 2002. Those with questions or needs can call 883-3070. Check out the Cheerful Heart web site at or email Mailing address for the organization is Cheerful Heart, P.O. Box 688, Polson, MT 59860.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

"Where Everyone Belongs" (W.E.B.)

W.E.B. (Where Everyone Belongs) is a middle school program that welcomes 5-8th graders and makes them feel comfortable throughout their middle school years. Built on the belief that students can help students succeed, the program trains 8th grade mentors to be W.E.B. leaders who give support and act as positive role models for younger students in the school.  W.E.B. provides the structure for students to receive support and guidance from 8th graders who have been through the challenges that middle school poses and understand that the transition to a different school can sometimes be overwhelming. 

W.E.B. students donated 25 hand-tied quilts for oncology patients.. Class teacher, Nicole Dubuque Camel, has a connection with Cheerful Heart and the oncology clinic. Her father, Don Dubuque, was a vital cancer thriver who felt strongly about supporting fellow cancer patients until his death in April of 2010. He was a constant presence at the clinic for years whether he was in or out of treatment.

The class meets five days a week and  students rotate involvement in the community as well as in school. Prior to COVID restrictions at the clinic the students made soup bags and connected with clinic patients. The students still provide bags for the clinic. 

Update: Cheerful Heart services

Cheerful Heart Volunteer Coordinator, Barbara Morin, receives two of the quilts crafted by Polson Middle School students, Wica Brown and Julia Barnard.    
“I am not sure who was happier, Cheerful Heart volunteers or Oncology staff and patients, when volunteers were welcomed back to the clinic in April.” Volunteer Coordinator Barbara Morin continued, “ I guess you could say it was mutual. There are many familiar faces, as well as new ones. CH is thrilled to provide our services to the patients once again.” Cheerful Heart’s 15 active volunteers serve soup, snacks and drinks at the clinic, provide transportation, run errands, fix meals, etc.   Cheerful Touch was established in 2012 to help cancer patients with hair loss and skin problems. Renee, owner of Salon Envy in Polson, has worked hard to give back and help patients feel better with a hair cut and style, wig styling, skin care and new make up. Renee will help patients with head coverings of all kinds. Massage therapists joined the program to offer massages either in their business or in-home. Cheerful Touch services are subsidized by Cheerful Heart. Support Group organizers, Coy Theobalt and Charlie Davis, connected with several group members throughout the summer. They will restart the Support Group when COVID cases decrease in Lake County and vaccinations increase. For more information or assistance requests on any of the services provided by Cheerful Heart, call 883-3070 and leave a message or email 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Four Cancer-Treatment Developments Worth Celebrating

Findings shared at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting bring hope of tackling cancer at earlier stages, with better treatments and at lower cost. 

When it comes to health breakthroughs, Covid-19 vaccines have received the lion’s share of recent attention – and rightly so, as they are key to ending a global pandemic that has killed millions and disrupted the lives of almost everyone on the planet. But there have also been big advancements in the field of cancer treatments. The American Society of Clinical Oncology held its annual meeting earlier this month, giving drugmakers and researchers the chance to share their findings on the latest developments in cancer research and drug research. There was much to celebrate. Here are four particularly promising takeaways: . . . (Read article)

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Local hospitals offer COVID-19 vaccinations

St. Luke is now offering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination for anyone 18 years of age and older. Those interested in getting the vaccine can register on our website ( or call our COVID-10 vaccine scheduling line at  582-5331. Since this line is not staffed 25/7, please leave a message and one of our friendly staff members will get back to you.

If we continue at the current vaccination rate, we expect that 50 percent of Lake County Residents will be vaccinated by mid-May! And, to date, over 160, 000 Montanans have been vaccinated!

Visitation is still limited at this time. Visit our  for the latest visitation policy updates.

As of April 1, St. Joseph Medical Center is offering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination to anyone 18 years of age and older. Please call 406-883-8400 to register for an appointment to receive a vaccine. 

The number of active COVID cases continues to decline.  Mass immunization clinics are being held for all Montana residents on Saturdays in April at the Salish Kootenai College Gymnasium.  Sign up for vaccinations at or call 745-3525.

Update: Cancer Support Group & Cheerful Touch

Coy Theobalt and Charlie Davis, Cancer Support Group organizers, are currently out of town until May. Their plan is to restart the Support Group in June depending on case numbers remaining low and if participants are fully vaccinated.

Cheerful Touch was established in 2012 to help cancer patients with hair loss and skin problems. Renee, owner of Salon Envy in Polson, has worked hard to give back and help patients feel better with a hair cut and style, wig styling, skin care and new make up. Renee will help patients with head coverings of all kinds.

Massage therapists joined the program to offer massages either in their business or in-home.  To take advantage of Cheerful Touch  services, which are subsidized by Cheerful Heart, call 883-3070 with questions or to make an appointment.

Cheerful Heart volunteers return to clinic

 Cheerful Heart volunteers have returned to work at St. Joseph’s Oncology Clinic.  Due to the pandemic, in March 2020, non-essential volunteers were not allowed into the hospitals.  Today the hospital requires that volunteers be fully vaccinated and at least two weeks from the second shot. The St. Luke Oncology Clinic has yet to open for volunteers.

Established in 2002, Cheerful Heart volunteers began assisting at the Polson clinic when it was located in the Grandview Clinic Building just west of the hospital. In 2005 the Oncology Clinic moved to the third floor of St. Joseph Medical Center. In 2009-2010 the space was remodeled and became the Otto G. Klein Memorial Cancer Center.  The St. Luke Oncology Clinic was established in October 2017.

* * * * * * * *

Betty Bjork signed up to volunteer at the Polson Clinic on April 6. Betty has given her love and care to oncology patients for 19 years. Betty is a survivor and thriver of ovarian cancer first diagnosed in 1996. Betty’s husband, Marshall served on the Cheerful Heart Board of Directors for 17 years and as chair for many of those  years. Marshall retired from the board in April 2019.

Monday, September 21, 2020

COVID-19 -- Oncology clinic info


Providence St. Joseph Medical Center participates in a bi-weekly Incident Command Center meeting.

The Incident Command is composed of Physicians, Nurses and Administrative Leaders who refer to CDC and other medical data to set the guidelines and directives for our Providence facilities.

There is not a firm date known at this time as to when it will be safe for volunteers and visitors to return to our hospitals and clinics.

We are here to serve patients in the safest manner possible throughout this pandemic – and that can take many different forms.

Cancer patients are currently being seen and treatments administered.

We do need to limit volunteers and visitors so that we can maintain social distancing for our immunocompromised patients and the caregivers who serve them.

We really miss the Cheerful Heart Volunteers, but do not know right now when they will be able to return to our hospital to help us.

Thanks for doing your part in masking and continuing to support cancer patients through this difficult time.

Kristy Beck-Nelson, Montana Cancer Center

Times may be challenging, but St. Luke Community Healthcare continues to serve the Mission Valley and meet our patients healthcare needs. Our Oncology Infusion Center remains open with ample safety measures in place, meaning patients who need chemotherapy or other infusion treatments will not experience a disruption in care. 

Those who need to see Dr. Goodman have the option of visiting with him via telehealth, which is a virtual appointment that allows patients to see their physician from the comfort of their own home, or from the Oncology Center in Ronan, avoiding out-of-town travel.

 While St. Luke is currently limiting visitors to essential caregivers or one parent, chemotherapy patients are encouraged to contact the Center ahead of time, to make an appointment and inform our staff if you would like to bring a support person with you. We do request that patients and accompanying support persons bring a mask and wear it at all times when in the hospital.

 If you have any questions or need to schedule an appointment, please call our Oncology team directly at (406) 528-5641. You can also learn more at:

Sarah Teaff
PhD, FACHE,  Chief Operating Officer
St. Luke Community Healthcare 

Colorectal Cancer Takes the Life of Far Too Many People and Black Men are Disproportionately Affected

Following the devastating news of the death of the world's beloved Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman, from colorectal cancer, many were left asking why – and how. What most don't know is that Chadwick Boseman sat at the intersection of where colorectal cancer rates are among the highest and rising the fastest. He was a young man. And he was a Black man.

Colorectal cancer affects far too many in this country and disproportionately impacts the Black community, with among the highest rates of colorectal cancer of any racial/ethnic group in the U.S.  African Americans are 20 percent more likely to get colorectal cancer and 40 percent more likely to die from it than other groups. Black men have the highest incidence rate.

"Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer in the country," said Durado Brooks, M.D. vice president of prevention and early detection at the American Cancer Society. "This disease is ravaging the Black community and it is as important as ever that everyone has access to and is receiving the recommended screenings. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, necessary screening tests remain available to prevent the disease or find it at an early, more treatable stage."  Read more. American Cancer Society 

Flu Vaccination Urged During COVID-19 Pandemic

As the US heads into influenza season with the novel coronavirus pandemic still raging, public health authorities stress that it’s more important than ever for people to get their flu shot. 

Although influenza’s disease burden varies from year to year, evidence clearly shows that vaccination can reduce flu severity and prevent hospitalizations—critical considerations at a time when the health care system is burdened by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Read more.  Journal of American Medical Association. 

Coronavirus: What People with Cancer Should Know

National Cancer Institute (NCI) Information Specialists are available to answer questions about coronavirus and cancer Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. ET. Read more.

Caring for scars and scar tissue that form after breast surgery or radiation

Scar tissue forms as part of the healing process after the skin is cut. A scar is fibrous tissue made of collagen that replaces the injured skin.  Breast cancer surgery or radiation therapy can cause scar tissue to form. Scar tissue can form around nerves causing nerve pain or numbness.
A lump of scar tissue forms in the hole left after breast tissue is removed. If scar tissue forms around a stitch from surgery it's called a suture granuloma and can feel like a lump. Scar tissue and fluid retention can change the breast appearance making breast tissue appear a little firmer or rounder than before surgery and/or radiation. If scar tissue is causing stiffness, pressure or pain, ask your doctor if physical therapy could help. In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove scar tissue that is very painful or stiff. 

Creams, ointments, or gels can help fade or lighten scars. These can be purchased over-the-counter or prescribed by a doctor. Some complementary and holistic medicine techniques have been shown to ease pain associated with scars,  One Cheerful Heart volunteer, who has had breast surgery twice, uses the pulp of wheatgrass and keeps it on the skin by using press and seal. She says it works like magic, even on old scars. She picks up the wheatgrass pulp from a juicing bar and stores it in a baggie; or she grows  the wheatgrass and juices it herself.  She waits until the incision is healed, then presses the pulp onto the scar for a couple of months or until the scar disappears. She will watch television or read a couple of hours each night with the pulp on her skin.  She suggests wearing an old T-shirt because of staining.  Doctors are amazed at her results.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Cancer deaths are declining because fewer Americans are smoking

Five decades after the U.S. surgeon general first warned Americans against smoking cigarettes, the nation finally is starting to reap the health benefits of fewer people smoking, according to a report out this week.

Researchers from the American Cancer Society found that between 2016 and 2017, cancer deaths declined 2.2 percent, the largest single-year drop on record.

Nevertheless, experts predict 1.8 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and more than 606,000 Americans are expected to die from cancer, the American Cancer Society reported. And smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.

These projections come as younger generations of Americans increasingly vape — and become sick from — e-cigarettes, a trend that has sparked a public outcry. Read more.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Volunteer Appreciation Supper and Social

Marshall and Betty Bjork and Chip Kurzenbaum were honored, on Oct. 13, at a Cheerful Heart Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. Each has volunteered for Cheerful Heart for 17 years caring for cancer patients in Lake County. Betty continues serving soup at Polson Oncology Clinic.

Cheerful Heart has 20 current volunteers. On Tuesdays volunteers serve soup at the oncology clinics in Polson and Ronan. They provide transportation and often are a second set of ears at a doctor’s appointment. Patient needs vary and the Cheerful Heart Volunteer Coordinator, Barbara Morin, connects with volunteers who can provide the service requested. Services can include meal preparation, running errands, walking the dog, etc. A Polson Beta group, Xi Alpha Gamma, is currently offering to provide housecleaning for cancer patients.

To volunteer contact Barbara Morin at 883-3070 and leave a message with the best time to reach you.

Board members from left: Leah Emerson, Valerie Lindstrom, Sarah Teaff,
Rich Forbis, Jeanne Doepke, Barbara Morin, Teri Warford