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

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