Saturday, November 3, 2018

My Support Group by Pat Salmon


Trying not to be too excited, I enter quietly, just listening.
But soon there is an energy one cannot ignore.
We gather as a force to reckon with.
Out of the tragedies comes a place to heal.

One by one we reach for an explanation.
The momentum gathers as we share our stories.
A peaceful calm replaces fear and anxiety.
Together we are strong, resilient and hopeful.

Bringing new meaning to the term, “safety in numbers.”
A smile, a hug and the love is felt.
Cancer is a very lonesome ordeal.
Remove the isolation and we are empowered.

Trying not to be too excited, soon I am drawn in.
The time flies by and we are saying good bye.
Our meeting has allowed us to let go of the trauma.
Gentle bonding has created a magical release.

Pat Salmon wrote this poem in July 2018 after attending the Cheerful Heart Support Group. See her story below…

Pat Salmon worked with Cheerful Heart for a year in 2006. She took photos and talked with cancer patients during that time. She says that she did not really understand what it meant to be a cancer patient until her daughter, a California resident, was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma more than one year ago.

“I was on the phone with Laura every day,” she says. “I did not know how to talk with her. I didn’t know what to say to help her, or how to help myself. I felt vulnerable. … It is so different when in happens to you.”

Pat searched for help and knew about the Cheerful Heart Cancer Support Group. She  hoped they could help her understand what her daughter was experiencing.  “One thing that I feel is important about the cancer support group,” she says,  “is how well I was received. Although I myself did not have cancer, they treated me with as much care as if I was in treatment. Almost everyone is affected by this horrible disease and I didn’t know if my needs would be addressed. They are a courageous group of survivors and patients using all their strength, love and experience to bring new meaning to the term, ‘strength in numbers.’  It was very touching to me to know that a small group of people in Montana could so impact my daughter in California. I hope the next time Laura comes to town she will be able to attend a meeting.”

Laura responded well to treatment and is now in remission. Pat says she has only missed two group meetings during the past year and plans to continue attending.

                                      Cheerful Touch

Cancer survivor and cosmetologist, Renee Bassett, in concert with Cheerful Heart created Cheerful Touch in 2012. Renee and other cosmetologists worked to help cancer patients with their hair, skin and nails. The program grew in 2013 to include three local massage therapists to work with cancer patients.

The program continues today to offer hair and skin care and massage therapy. Renee Bassett is on a year-long sabbatical traveling the country but in her place a new volunteer has stepped forward. Read on . .

           Cheerful Touch update ~ a serendipitous moment

Jolene Casey, a Butte native, moved to Seattle where she owned and operated a hair salon for 30+ years. A year ago she sold her business, and with her husband, moved back to Montana settling on the east shore of Flathead Lake between Blue and Yellow bays.

She had created a wig room she named, Pursuit of Victory, hoping to make a difference for women with hair loss. Jolene was trained by the American Cancer Society’s Look Good Feel Better program. The ACS program trains hairdressers to help women and men with hair loss by providing expert wig advice and free makeup and instruction.

The person who purchased Jolene’s salon was not interested in carrying on with the wig room, and for the past year the wigs and hats sat in boxes in her garage.

After Jolene’s husband had knee surgery she was at St. Joseph Medical Center recently to see the surgeon who had performed the operation. The front desk sent Jolene to the third floor of the hospital where she did not find the doctor’s office, but she did walk past the Cheerful Heart Resource Room where she saw wigs being displayed. The light bulb went off in her head !!

A serendipitous moment…she did not find the doctor’s office on that floor BUT she did find a place where she could donate her stash of wigs and turbans. The front desk person apologized by saying “sorry I sent you to the wrong place” but Jolene thought “oh, you didn’t send me to the wrong place.”

Jolene connected with Cheerful Heart and donated 24 wigs and 27 turbans from her Pursuit of Victory room. The wigs are a high quality product that look very natural.

Jolene is now a part of Cheerful Touch. She will volunteer her services to trim wigs and work with a patient who is losing hair. She

Monday, July 9, 2018

Epigenetics, cancer prevention and you

An interview with Dr. Ajay Goel

Just over two years ago, Good Health Lifestyles had the honor of interviewing Dr. Ajay Goel, a Professor and Director of the Center for Translational Genomics and Oncology at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Since then, we’ve had an outpouring of requests from readers asking for more information from Dr. Goel on the promising effects that natural botanicals have on cancer prevention. GHL recently sat down for a second time with Dr. Goel to discuss his current research and learn about why we should all be paying attention to a branch of science called epigenetics. We hope you enjoy the update!

GHL: Dr. Goel, the majority of your work is based on cancer research. In your opinion, what’s the most important thing people should know about preventing the disease?  Read entire interview...

National Institutes of Health: Diet, Epigenetic, and cancer prevention

Disruption of the epigenome has been a hallmark of human cancers and has been linked with tumor pathogenesis and progression. Since epigenetic changes can be reversed in principle, studies have been carried out to identify modifiable (such as diet and lifestyle) factors, which possess epigenetic property, in hope for developing epigenetically based prevention/intervention strategies. The goal is to achieve some degree of epigenetic reprogramming, which would maintain normal gene expression status and reverse tumorigenesis through chemoprevention or lifestyle intervention such as diet modification. The ability of dietary compounds to act epigenetically in cancer cells has been studied and evidence continues to surface for constituents in food and dietary supplements to influence the epigenome and ultimately individual's risk of developing cancer.  Read more ...

Epigenetic mechanisms in anti-cancer actions in bioactive food components--the implications in cancer prevention

The hallmarks of carcinogenesis are aberrations in gene expression and protein function caused by both genetic and epigenetic modifications. Epigenetics refers to the changes in gene expression programming that alter the phenotype in the absence of a change in DNA sequence. Read more ...

How Epigenetics Could Improve Your Cancer Treatment

The human genome is often touted as the blueprint for the body. It's what helps make you, you. Many may also say that genomic understanding has provided the blueprint for modern cancer research. Yet, while genetic mutations can drive cancer development or increase your risk for malignancy, they are only one of the many factors at play. Today, how genes are stored in cells is swiftly gaining the attention of more and more cancer researchers. Subtle differences in cells affect how they switch genes on and off.  Read more...

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Good News for Women With Breast Cancer: Many Don’t Need Chemo

Many women with early-stage forms of the disease
 can forego chemo, based on a test that measures the
 activity of genes involved in breast cancer recurrence.

Many women with early-stage breast cancer who would receive chemotherapy under current standards do not actually need it, according to a major international study that is expected to quickly change medical treatment.

“We can spare thousands and thousands of women from getting toxic treatment that really wouldn’t benefit them,” said Dr. Ingrid A. Mayer, from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, an author of the study. “This is very powerful. It really changes the standard of care.”

The study found that gene tests on tumor samples were able to identify women who could safely skip chemotherapy and take only a drug that blocks the hormone estrogen or stops the body from making it. The hormone-blocking drug tamoxifen and related medicines, called endocrine therapy, have become an essential part of treatment for most women because they lower the risks of recurrence, new breast tumors and death from the disease. Read more.

Many women with breast cancer may not need chemo, study finds

Genetic test can help determine treatment for patients with smaller-sized tumors that have not spread to the lymph nodes

Most women with early-stage breast cancer may be able to avoid chemotherapy, a new study finds.
Researchers determined that patients with smaller-sized tumors that had not spread to the lymph nodes did just as well without chemo as those who got the treatment, according to the study presented Sunday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Experts cautioned, however, that the findings may not apply to those who have larger tumors or those with cancer that has started to spread, or metastasize. More studies are needed to look at those groups of women, they said. Read more.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Open Jam for Charity Raises funds for Cheerful Heart

Burgers and music are on the menu the last Wednesday of each month at the Mission Valley Elks Club in Polson. Local musicians are invited to an open mike Jam for Charity that begins at 7:30 and ends whenever. Open Jam began in February 2018 when funds were raised for SAFE Harbor and on March 28 Cheerful Heart was selected to receive donations totaling $335. The general public is invited to enjoy the evening, burgers are served from 5-7 pm followed by music and dancing.

Out with the old and in with the new . . .

The Wigs, Hats & Scarves Program now includes hats, turbans, Knitted Knockers and ComfyChemo shirts. All inventory is new and available to any cancer patient without charge. Cheerful Heart works with Merle Norman if a patient is looking for a wig.

“ComfyChemo was created in 2011 by an incredible and loving oncology nurse . She had patients constantly complaining that on treatment day they had a difficult time knowing what to wear because they had to pull down the shirt collar or pull up their shirt to gain port access.  She went home one night and began work on a shirt for one of her patients . After the patients in her treatment center saw it they all wanted one. Eventually she knew that she could help patients around the country so she started

"It hasn't been an easy journey without many obstacles. But with a lot of determination and belief ComfyChemo is now recognized by making cancer treatment centers across the United States for not only the wonderful shirts be also for the love behind each one, all because of one nurse.”    ComfortChemo Team

“Knitted Knockers are special handmade breast prosthesis for women who have undergone mastectomies or other procedures to the breast. Traditional breast prosthetics are usually expensive, heavy, sweaty and uncomfortable. They typically require special bras or camisoles with pockets and can’t be worn for weeks after surgery. Knitted Knockers on the other hand are soft, comfortable, beautiful and when placed in a regular bra they take the shape and feel of a real breast. Our special volunteer knitters provide these free to those requesting them. Knitted knockers can be adjusted to fill the gap for breasts that are uneven and easily adapted for those going through reconstruction by simply removing some of the stuffing.”

Locally, Knit Wits, a Big Arm knitting group, supplies Cheerful Heart with Knitted Knockers.

Wigs, Hat & Scarves Program changes

Cheerful Heart’s Wigs, Hats & Scarves Program must change to meet St. Joseph Medical Center guidelines. The Hospital Accreditation Agency’s enhanced infection control stipulates that only new items can be distributed at the hospital. To meet sanitary guidelines all used items have been removed from Cheerful Heart’s Resource Room.

The Joint Commission Accreditation On-site Survey (JCOM) visits hospitals every three years to be sure specific standards are met for proper patient care.

Anne Hoppie, Clinical Manager for Montana Cancer Center, visited the Polson Oncology Clinic on March 20. Anne credited quick work by Barbara Morin and Jane Holland, CH volunteers, for removing all used items. New items that did not arrive in packaging were put into plastic bags.

Current inventory of items available to cancer patients from the Resource Room include Knitted Knockers, hats and Comfy Chemo shirts. New wigs are also available through Cheerful Heart. Anyone interested in a wig should contact Barbara Morin, 883-3070.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Support for College Students with Cancer

Cancer does not discriminate. It doesn’t care about age, race, religion or anything else— and it certainly doesn’t care if you’re a college student. In fact, many of the 72,000 individuals between the ages of 15 and 39 diagnosed with cancer every year are students; today, it’s estimated that one of every 100 college students is a cancer survivor. The good news is that college students facing cancer can find a wealth of support, from understanding teachers to accommodations and support groups. This guide is for those trying to pursue their dream of higher education— despite their battle with the Big C. Read more . . .

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

St. Luke Community Healthcare Oncology Infusion Center

Dave and Susan Vaneek, St. Luke nurse.
Dave walked into the sparkling new the St. Luke Community Healthcare (SLCH) Oncology Infusion Center on Oct. 24 as its first cancer patient. Stunning views of the Mission Mountains fill the large northeast facing windows. Oncologist Dr. Michael Goodman, Glacier Oncology in Kalispell, travels to Ronan on Tuesdays. Currently Dr. Goodman is seeing about four patients per week. The space will accommodate six patients at one time, but the number of patients served relies on Dr. Goodman and his preferred patient load.

“We are pleased with the response to the Oncology Infusion Center,” says Sarah Teaff, St. Luke’s Chief Operating Officer, “Demand is growing, and we are considering additional operating hours in anticipation of growing demand.”

Front Desk.
The oncology center was built in response to the high prevalence of cancer in Lake County, the need to reduce the travel burden for community members, and was in response to the 2013 and 2016 Community Health Needs Assessments, which surveyed residents from seven communities in the Mission Valley. Cancer services ranked second for desired local healthcare services in the survey. A copy of St. Luke’s Community Health Needs Assessments can be found on the hospital’s website.

“Our goal was not a monetary one,” Sarah says, “we wanted to provide an important service which was lacking. Patients undergoing
Treatment Room.
chemotherapy treatment often times have to travel to Kalispell or Missoula, which requires a day off work for the patient and caregiver as well as travel costs; not to mention the discomfort of a drive home after chemotherapy. Our hope was to reduce this burden for people in our community.”

Cheerful Heart now provides SLCH infusion center with volunteer services that have been provided to St. Joseph Community Medical Center’s Oncology Clinic since 2002. Cheerful Heart’s services, in addition to the soup and snack service at the infusion center on Tuesdays, includes transportation, running errands, walking the dog, meal preparation, etc. All Cheerful Heart services are provided without charge to Lake County cancer patients currently in treatment. Cheerful Touch is another available service to patients and includes massage, hair, skin and nail care. To reach Cheerful Heart call 883-3070. The latest cancer information can be found on the Cheerful Heart web site