Surviving cancer and thriving together

Natalia S., of Salem, is a pancreatic cancer survivor who endured six months of chemotherapy. This spring at the Salem Health CHEC, a flyer about an upcoming workshop for cancer survivors caught her attention.

She decided to take part in the program.

“I now have a better understanding of this disease,” said Natalia. “I learned about how to cope with my daily pain and everything.”

Workshop includes caregivers

Natalia’s husband and caregiver, Ricardo S., also took part in the six-week course entitled Cancer: Surviving and Thriving. The program is presented quarterly by NorthWest Senior & Disability Services.

“It’s very important because I learned a lot about caregiving,” said Ricardo. “Tender loving care is the main thing. I also need to give her strength and encouragement throughout the day.”

Kimi C.-L., of Sheridan, also heard about the same workshop. Her husband is in treatment for throat cancer.

“I felt a little bit overwhelmed and this program applied to caregivers as well,” said Kimi. “I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t taken this course. They helped me set some goals that I’m still doing now.”

The comprehensive workshop covers everything from diet and exercise to financial concerns.

Support group forms

When the program ended, many of the attendees had become friends. Some of them expressed an interest in continuing to connect.

In response, Salem Cancer Institute created a monthly support group for cancer survivors and caregivers.

Bev M., of Salem, is a survivor of at least three different kinds of cancer and been through four surgeries. She says she appreciates being part of the support group.

“When there’s more than one person in the room, ideas get generated,” said Bev. “Let’s brainstorm how to deal with this situation.”

Natalia appreciates the camaraderie within the group.

“If you don’t have the support group, you feel like you’re all alone in this disease,” said Natalia.

Open invitation

Find more information about the free Cancer: Surviving and Thriving workshop and cancer support group by calling Salem Cancer Institute at 503-814-1449.

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