Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Importance of Cancer Networks

This is a guest post by David Haas 

Many cancer patients admit that being diagnosed with cancer was the most trying time of their lives. However, there is always hope for cancer patients, even patients with a rare and aggressive type of cancer -- like mesothelioma. Hope for many cancer patients comes in the form of a cancer network or a survivor network. Any doctor would always recommend his patients to these groups, and for good reasons.

Cancer networks offer hope

When like-minded people gather, amazing things can happen. Cancer patients in any stage can offer hope to their peers. Suddenly every fear and worry can dissipate in a matter of seconds by a few encouraging words from someone in the same situation. 

When people have someone to lean on, anxiety subsides; it takes a back seat. Suddenly, cancer patients develop a new positive mindset, which also helps their health and recovery.
Patients in remission can encourage new patients, telling them that they will be alright, especially if they remain confident that they can beat the disease. The advice that remission patients give is invaluable to new patients; it gives new patients hope, which is something that doctors cannot always give.

Even just talking or writing about your feelings is therapeutic and can greatly help. Any type of communication is valuable to cancer patients.

Cancer networks offer knowledge

Though doctors offer important information, they cannot offer the type of information that directly relates to the cancer patient. By that I mean that many doctors have never had cancer, so they do not exactly know what their patients are feeling; they don't know what that fear feels like. 

The people in cancer networks understand how it feels, and they have answers that many people do not have. They can offer tips, advice and words of hope to the other patients in the group. There are many ways to recover from the negative effects of cancer treatment, and patients in remission know the answers.


Cancer networks are also available online for patients who cannot attend in-person meetings. Though they are not as personal, they still offer the same type of hope and information for many cancer patients.  If you are going through cancer treatment, please, find yourself a cancer network that you can join. The friends you make will help you fight your disease.

1 comment:

Ostomyvisitor said...

Birth of a Support Group
by Larry Pilarski

Almost 12 years ago I went to see a surgeon about removing what my family doctor and I thought were hemorrhoids. After bending over and having what looked like a small telescope shoved up my rear-end, the doctor exclaimed, “I’m afraid it’s a little worse than hemorrhoids, I’ll have to take a cutting.” As soon as I heard the word “cutting” I thought “CANCER!” But, wait, I thought, “It can’t be; I’ve had a 'barium enema' and a 'sigmoidoscopy' both proved negative.”

Three days later I was called by the surgeon telling me I had colon cancer. He had made arrangements at the local hospital … I had to have surgery. Immediately! Thank God I’m still here but why didn’t the cancer show up in the barium enema or sigmoidoscopy?

The cancer was holed up in a muscle at the end of the anus. When the tube was inserted it passed the diseased area before it could be detected. (So much for modern medicine.)

After my colostomy surgery, I tried to find support in my community. Unfortunately there was none! I looked in neighboring towns to no avail... I even contacted Hudson County (the county I live in) for a list of ostomy services; There were none!

The hospital had done away with “Ostomy Nurses.” The nurses in the hospital were poorly trained, in Ostomy Care, in fact, their training was much the same as mine after surgery … watching a short film on how to care for your colostomy. (Which was nothing more than showing you how to change your "Pouch.")

At one of my three-month sessions with my surgeon, I mentioned the fact there were no support groups in the area. He jokingly said, “Why don’t you start one?” I started to think about this and what could be done to help others in similar situations.

Searching the Web, I submerged myself in everything I could about ostomies. I learned so much I eventually wrote a Tip Sheet for fellow ostomates calling it “The Ostomates Owners Manual” ('Technique's You Should Know When Addressing Your Stoma'). I had several doctors and nurses read it over and correct any mistakes I may have made.

If you would like a copy of the booklet you can get it free. Just send an email to: Ostomyvisitor@aol.com. (Subject line "Please send Ebook) Not only will you receive the download link to the book, you’ll also receive our monthly newsletter, The Ostomy Visitor, full of advice, tips and humor.

Over the next several months I continued to learn. Yet, in the back of my mind I thought... 'how a support group would benefit people who were going to have, or who just had, such surgery.'

I eventually found a small place where senior citizens had exercise classes. It was affiliated with the hospital I had my surgery in (Community Crossings was the name). I contacted the head nurse and told her of my idea.She loved the idea, but first had to check with the hospital administration to see if it was was all right. Fortunately, it was and the Bayonne Ostomy Alliance was born.

If you or someone you know is in a similar situation, have them email the alliance at ostomyvisitor@aol.com or give us a call at 201-339-5251. Our meetings are the second Wednesday of every month, from 2 to 3 PM at the Bayonne Medical Center (29th Street at Avenue “E” in Bayonne, NJ 07002). AND our New support group meets at Jersey City Medical Center the First Monday Of Each Month from 4 to 6 PM (355 Grand Street, Jersey City, NJ, 07302).