World Cancer Day & How You Can Help
Did You Know February 4th is World Cancer Day?
In recognition of World Cancer Day East will match all dollars earned on February 4th 2017 and donate it to our local Hearst Cancer Resource Center. I recently sat down with Bev Kirkhart Director of (HCRC) and Gloria Caine the HCRC’s Nurse Navigator to learn more about this great resource.
The HCRC is located in the building adjacent to French Hospital and offers many wellness programs for cancer survivors and their caregivers. These include meditation and movement classes, cancer support groups and caregiver support groups, nutritional counseling, informational talks, and other community activities. “I like to say the doctors treat the tumor and we treat the mind body and spirit. We act at as the hub and we direct the patients off to where they need to go based on what their needs are.” Gloria describes herself as a guide throughout this process, “my role is to educate newly diagnosed patients, empower them with resources and emotionally support the clients and caregivers. So we take care of the whole person. We aren’t looking at a scan or a pathology slide, we are looking at you and how we can best support you to get you through it”.
Today, HCRC offers 20 programs that can help patients reduce financial and emotional stress, find hope and inspiration and find a community of other survivors that they can talk to who understand what they are going through.
Jill: I recently read that the American Cancer Society expects 173,200 diagnoses of cancer this year in California. How many cancer diagnoses do we have in San Luis Obispo every year?
Beverly: Although I would love to give you that number the last county numbers we have seen were published by the California Cancer Registry in 2013, which showed 1472 cases in our County. Breast Cancer is the majority.
Jill: The same report shows that the cancer death rate has dropped 23% since 1991. What would you say is the reason for the increase in diagnoses and drop in mortality rate?
Gloria: Increased diagnoses are due to improved screening programs and the improved marketing of these programs by local hospitals and the American Cancer Society and other organizations. It’s increasing awareness that prevention and early detection saves lives. Treatments are getting better every year (such as targeted chemotherapy), and patients are getting better supportive care like better anti-nausea medication etc.
Beverly: As for the HCRC we have seen a large increase in use of our services over the last year which we attribute to more primary doctor and oncologist referrals, and an incredible 400% increase in north county by adding Eloise Medina our Lay Patient Navigator who translates between the physician and the patients who do not speak English and this has vastly empowered our Hispanic Community. It’s been a delight to see that change. She is just breaking barriers all over the place.
Jill: What are your clients biggest concerns once they are diagnosed with cancer?
Beverly: Finances is a big challenge for a lot of patients because insurance will pay for certain things but there are other issues like they can no longer work the hours they were working because of their treatment.
Gloria: Yes I would say that finances and transportation are two of the major challenges our patients face. Many of them have treatments that they cannot drive to themselves so we have gas cards and free rides on ride on and we have a grant to help offset the costs of out of pocket medial expenses. And of course another is of course the emotional which can vary from the unknown of chemotherapy treatment to “what does this mean for my kids”, to concerns about role reversal within a marriage. And our support groups of course offer a community for emotional support.
Jill: What does the HCRC recommend for cancer prevention? What can we do to reduce our risk?
Gloria's List per the American Institute for Cancer Research
Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
Avoid sugary drinks and limit consumption of processed foods with added sugar.
Eat more and a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes.
Limit consumption of red meats (beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats.
Limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and one for women per day.
Limit consumption of salty foods and processed foods that have high sodium.
Do not rely on supplements to protect against cancer.
Do not smoke or chew tobacco.
Jill: How can caregivers support their loved ones who are going through cancer and get the support they need?
Gloria: We get a lot of calls from caregivers. They really take the brunt of it. Typically they are keeping everything organized, driving patients to appointments, keeping track of medications and taking notes at the appointments. It’s a lot.
Beverly: We do have a caregiver support group at the same time as the survivor support group, which makes is easier for them to attend. The caregivers are often invited to our events and we try to reach out to the caregivers. In the past we have had a pampering day for the caregivers and this is something we’d like to do again with our community partners.
Jill: How can the community support the efforts of Hearst Cancer Resource Center?
Spread the word that HCRC is a free resource available to cancer survivors and their caregivers.
Business Fundraising – Have fundraisers to support the cause. You could donate a percentage of your pay to the Hearst Cancer Resource Center during a given pay period as a way to practice philanthropy in your organization or plan an event that raises money toward the cause.
Donations to the HCRC – Every dollar that is donated goes directly to the patients. Our goal is $500,000. Donate Now
Jill: What are some HCRC events that the community should know about?
Beverly: Share the Hope - this is our premiere event for the year. It's a great time as we start at the dairy barn at on Hearst's Ranch - Steve and Barbara Hearst are such great supporters and hosts. Then we head up to the patio outside the Castle and enjoy the evening there. It's really a wonderful event.
The event is April 8, 2017 - Tickets to go on sale in February.
Resources For Cancer Patients: