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kerslakep's picture

In Support of Support Groups

Type: 
Article
Description: 

When it comes to fighting cancer, many people seem to want to go it alone. For some reason we view the cancer struggle as a private affair and often hold at arms length people who might otherwise have helped us immensely. I know because I was certainly one of those people in 1979 when I was first diagnosed with a lymphoma as a teenager. In 1987 when I was admitted to Wellington hospital with widespread, advanced disease I was still of the mind that the business of beating my cancer was mine alone, making it clear to even my closest friends that they were to leave me alone until I surfaced again, with full health restored.

You can therefore imagine my response when invited to attend cancer support groups back then. I avoided them like the plague. I was clearly a loner when it came to facing my health problems but on top of that I had a terribly negative image of cancer support groups. I had this preconception of mutual moaning forums. I also very uncharitably believed people who joined a group were not strong enough to face their battles alone. I saw myself as stronger than that.

I was intrigued then in the early 1990s when, with an early notion of writing a book on boosting quality of life and maybe even the odds of beating cancer I came across screeds of material lauding cancer support groups for their therapeutic benefits. My reading suggested a safe, positive and unpretentious environment where participants could express their feelings but also simply share the nuances and peculiarities of the cancer experience with people in the same predicament as they.

First and foremost, the literature said, a support group enabled you to express yourself in a safe and truly understanding forum. An important benefit of a group was said to be that it allowed the cancer patient to regain some sense of control in their lives after a period since their diagnosis where they had quite possibly felt out of control in every sense. Amongst other people facing similar challenges life crises are put into better perspective. I knew as a cancer survivor that when diagnosed with the disease you can and often do feel like the only one afflicted.

In 1994 I received another recurrence scare. This time my recurrence was localized and some weeks of radiotherapy cleared the disease. However for me that didnt lessen the usual associated fears, reflections and element of post-treatment depression. I decided to change my coping pattern and took steps to link up with a support group for a period of time. What I experienced reflected all the good things Id read about cancer support groups and more. I found the group to be a strong set of individuals. While we all had our fears about the present and the future, there was a dignity and resilience in each person that I admired greatly.

People didnt complain or whine as I had imagined those years before. Each person brought their own coping approaches to the table and I found that I learned from them. I became more open, more giving and more sharing. I actually believe that I became a better person for the experience. When I had my latest recurrence from late 2003 through all of 2004, I found myself with an entirely different coping style which served me well. This time I was open to all my friends and family in the experience and I know that the reciprocated love, caring and openness made a difference for me. It may have been the difference in my recovery.

Even the most individualistic of us cannot be Islands unto ourselves. Even the strongest and most private of us needs to open ourselves up to others. Being able to share our experiences during a cancer battle helps us achieve a more settled state of mind which underpins our recovery aspirations. Now, as a 47 year old man with 28 years experience with cancer my first advice to the newly diagnosed is to find a cancer support group and allow the collective dignity, strength and humanity found there to steady and ground them for the difficult experience ahead.

Phil Kerslake is a New Zealand six-time cancer survivor, speaker to cancer support forums worldwide and author of the 2006 book: Life, Happiness & Cancer: Survive with Action and Attitude! For more about Phil, his book and speaking services visit his website www.lifepaths.co.nz.

Source: 
CanTalk - Cancer Society NZ Newsletter
Contact information: 
phone: 00 64 4 478 4462
Author/Speaker/Performer: 
Phil Kerslake

hyster sisters

Type: 
Web site
Description: 

gyn cancer forum, very supportive and informative

jamilou's picture

Understanding CA 125 Levels

Type: 
Book
Description: 

This is a patient education brochure. Great resource for explaining CA125 levels and what causes numbers to rise etc... You can go to www.thegcf.org and click on publications and then go to view or print order form. The brochure is FREE for 75 or less.

Source: 
Ortho Biotech
Author/Speaker/Performer: 
Gynecologic Cancer Foundation
nanuk's picture

The China Study

Type: 
Book
Description: 

"The most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and the startling implications for diet, weight loss, and long-term health"

Source: 
Benbella
Author/Speaker/Performer: 
T Colin Campbell, PhD
Publish date: 
2006
angie22's picture

Cancer and the Lord's Prayer

Type: 
Book
Description: 

Distilled from more than two decades of firsthand experiences and affirmed by nearly two million readers of his other books, Greg Anderson's message in Cancer and the Lord's Prayer is refreshingly simple. The greatest prayer is a blueprint for the development of the soul, leading to physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. You'll see how the daily discipline of this life-changing prayer can help you leave "dis-ease" behind and discover the extraordinary life you were meant to live.

This 92 page book is not intimidating even for a non-reader.

Source: 
Meredith Books
Author/Speaker/Performer: 
Greg Anderson
Publish date: 
2006

"Force" - Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered

Type: 
Web site
Description: 

I joined this website, CSN, a number of months ago, shortly after my daughter was diagnosed with cervical cancer. In the meantime, my mom, who is in remission for a different cancer in each breast, was genetically tested for a mutated cancer gene, and, unfortunately, she tested positive for the BRCA 2 mutated gene. Secondly, my sister, who is 36 was tested and she too came back positive for the BRCA 2 gene. I have resisted this test, but after my daughters diagnosis of cancer, felt it was necessary to do all I could to "try" to do what I could to avoid getting any cancer(s). I was tested and yes, like my mom and sister am also BRCA 2 positive. Then my sweet daughter, with the cervical cancer, which by the way, a year later from her diagnosis on 11/18/05 is"today" at least, cancerfree; she too has the BRCA 2 gene. Incidentally, my mothers mother and her mother both died of breast cancer. So, as you can see it is a very BAD gene in our family. Anyway, this is a very informative website dealing with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer and is affiliated with H.Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. I hope it is as helpful for anyone reading this as it has been for me and my family.
Sincerely,
Kerry

leibel's picture

Prostate Cancer Resoure Center

Type: 
Web site
Description: 

Provides mentoring,education,awareness and screenings for Prostate Cancer. For minorities and underserved populations in Austin,Texas.Also advocacy in Austin ,Texas and Washington D.C.

BettyBoop1's picture

Colon Cancer Alliance

Type: 
Web site
Description: 

The Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA) is an organization of colon and rectal cancer survivors, their families, caregivers, people genetically predisposed to the disease and the medical community.

SuziJames's picture

OCRF

Type: 
Organization
Description: 

The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund

Contact information: 
14 Pennsylvania Plaza Suite 1400 New York NY 10122 phone: 1(800)873-9569 fax: 212-947-5652 info@ocrf.org
CatheS's picture

Cancer Vixen

Type: 
Book
Description: 

“What happens when a shoe-crazy, lipstick-obsessed, pasta-slurping, fashion-fanatic, madly-in-love, about-to-get married, big-city-girl cartoonist with a fabulous life finds . . . a lump in her breast?

That’s the question that sets this funny, powerful and poignant graphic memoir in motion. In vivid colour and with a taboo-breaking sense of humour, Marisa Marchetto tells the story of her 11-month, ultimately triumphant bout with breast cancer – from diagnosis to cure, and every challenging step in between.

But Cancer Vixen is about more than surviving an illness. It is a portrait of one woman’s supercharged life in Manhattan, and a wonderful love story. Marisa, self-described “terminal bachelorette” meets her Prince Charming in Silvano, owner of the chic downtown trattoria Da Silvano. A month before their wedding, she receives her diagnosis. She wonders: How will he react to this news? How will my world change? Will I even survive? And . . . what about my hair?

From raucous New Yorker staff lunches and the star-studded crowd at Silvano’s restaurant, to the rainbow pumps Marisa wears to chemotherapy, Cancer Vixen is a total original. Her wit and courage are an inspiration – she’s a cancer vixen, not its victim: “Cancer,” she says, “I’m going to kick your butt! And I’m going to do it in killer four-inch heels."

Source: 
Alfred A Knopf
Author/Speaker/Performer: 
Marisa Acocella Marchetto

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