Coping with Cancer Closer to Home

By Catherine Boivin on March 2 / 2017

[Cancer Coaching, Families]Comments

Nancy and her husband Luke at Andrew Haydon Park

When Nancy Therrien started to think more about dying than about living, she knew it was time to find support.

Nancy is fighting a lung cancer, and although she lives in Stittsville, last spring she made the trek downtown to join Coping with Cancer, a Cancer Coaching group offered at the Cancer Foundation’s Maplesoft Center.

“You forget how to live,” Nancy says. “You’re concentrating on how you’re going to die. You need to shift away from that kind of thinking.”

And Coping with Cancer helped Nancy do just that.

Led by Cancer Coach Patti Barrett-Robillard, the series of seven group sessions aims to give cancer survivors the information, support, and practical skills to cope with their disease. Whether newly diagnosed, in treatment, or post-treatment, clients explore as a group topics ranging from exercise to meditation, nutrition, stress management, body image, changes in relationships, and fears of recurrence or dying.

Hope is one of the biggest takeaways for many who join the program. As one participant said: “We’re together, we’re giving each other comfort, and we’re giving each other hope that there are better things to come.”

For Nancy, what helped the most was finding support within a group of people who share her experience. “You’re not sitting there by yourself. At first you think it’s just you and that you’re not handling it well or you’re not strong enough. But you’ve got a lot of other people going through the exact same thing. I found that so helpful. It gave me a lot of strength.”

“It’s nice to have that place I can go to, to let it all out,” she adds. “I would definitely go more often.”

So what’s stopping her?

The distance. “I run my own business, so it’s hard for me to leave and spend 45 minutes on the Queensway. Plus, I’m still on a heavy dose of morphine, so I’m restricted on how much I can drive.”

Nancy isn’t alone. Families across the region are struggling with cancer and the toll it takes on their lives. While cancer and its treatment can come with many barriers, accessing support shouldn’t be one of them.

That’s why we want to offer Cancer Coaching services across the region. So that people like Nancy who are facing cancer don’t have to choose between getting the help they need and conserving their energy by staying close to home. They should be able to do both.

And with your support, they will.

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