Health

Mar 1, 2013 8:19 PM by Jennifer Horbelt and Eugene Daniels

Livin' With It Part 3: Local Resources For Cancer Diagnosis

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO- One in three people will be diagnosed with cancer. Statistics like that are why awareness and knowledge are keys in the fight to beat this disease.

February is National Cancer Prevention Month. News 5 is taking a closer look at how our state is affected by this disease in this special series, 'Livin' With It'. From the impact cancer has on patients, to innovative cancer treatments right here in our area, to resources for dealing with the physical and emotional scars cancer leaves on patients and their loved ones.

"I've learned how to handle stress much differently," Cindy Rose said.

From the 'what-ifs', to chemotherapy, to losing her hair. Breast cancer taught Cindy plenty about stress. It's something Memorial Hospital Oncologist, Dr. Wendy Oatis, and Penrose Cancer Center Survivorship Nurse Navigator Elly Peters, see first hand.

"It is a life-altering diagnosis in a lot of cases," Dr. Oatis said.

"Fatigue is a huge stressor, and huge side effect of people with cancer," Peters said.

Mary Moore's non-small cell lung cancer diagnosis brought guilt.

"My mother and my sister both died from that same cancer," Mary explained.

Radiation and chemotherapy left her with neuropathy in her feet and short term memory loss. She could experience these symptoms for up to five years.

"Sometimes it's really tough," Mary said. "You're just so sick and tired of fighting."

"That whole mix of what I expected and what's really happening, it's really hard too," Peters said of the emotions patients go through both during treatment and after.

The journey for patients begins with people like Penrose Cancer Center Outreach Nurse Navigator Peggy Thomas.

"Most of the people I talk to don't have cancer yet," Thomas said. "They have questions, they have concerns, they have abnormal lumps and bumps. They're looking for resources."

It continues with doctors and treatment.

"Ok, treatment's done. Now what? What do I expect?" Mary said.

Experts say, the stress will still be there.

"It will stay with people throughout their treatment, and well beyond," Dr. Oatis explains.

While hospitals like Memorial and Penrose offer the weapons to fight the disease physically, they offer something more.

"You support them, you give them hope when you can, you give them comfort all the time," Dr. Laura Kay Pomerenke, a breast surgeon with Memorial Hospital, said.

Also, tools to move forward that patients may have never considered. Penrose Cancer Center offers programs for everything from coping with grief, to improving nutrition, exercise, therepeutic art retreats, to simply making connections with others and knowing you're not alone.

"Just different things that they can come and say oh, I never tried that. I'm gonna' put that in my tool box for coping," Peters said.

For Mary and Cindy, the experience has both helped and inspired.

"The hits just keep on coming again and again. Show up," Mary said of what she's learned.

"I'm focusing now on giving back. I want to help other people that are going through the same situation," Cindy said.

"These people are just amazing," Peters said. "They're so brave, They're so courageous. I'm blessed everyday."

So, what's in store for Mary and Cindy? Mary completes treatment in April, and will continue to check in with doctors to keep an eye on the disease. Cindy plans to become a mentor through a new program at Penrose Cancer Center, pairing up survivors with newly diagnosed patients.

Below are a list of links to help you learn more about cancer and the resources available in Southern Colorado:

1.) To view clinical trials taking place at Penrose Cancer Center, click here.

2.) To view patient and family support at Penrose Cancer Center, click here.

3.) To view the cancer center website through Centura, click here.

4.) To view more on the St. Mary-Corwin Dorcy Cancer Center in Pueblo, click here.

5.) To view the Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, click here.

6.) To view the National Cancer Institute, click here.

7.) To view the American Cancer Society, click here.

8.) To view Relay for Life, click here.

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