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Help for the Helpers

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With 65 million Americans caring for chronically ill, disabled or aged family members or friends each year, resources to help the helpers are essential. Now, there is a new online resource for those caring for a loved one with cancer, and it’s free of charge.

Help for Cancer Caregivers is an interactive, personalized web tool to help combat the stress of being a cancer caregiver, so they can be well equipped to care for their loved ones.

This free resource is the result of a collaboration between CancerCare, Michigan State University, Indiana University, Caregiver Action Network, and Wellpoint.

Check it out today by visiting http://helpforcancercaregivers.org.

To learn more about how this came about, visit the Wellpoint Foundation’s tumblr page at http://wellpointfoundation.tumblr.com/.

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Hope for Kids and Teens: Edgar’s Story

edgarWhen Edgar first started attending the Kids and Teens Circle support group, he stayed pretty quiet. It’s not that he didn’t have a lot to say; his mother was battling cancer, after all. But this group that his mom’s friend had recommended, at the Winnetka location of the Cancer Support Community, was all new to him, and he wasn’t sure he was ready to share his feelings just yet.

Three years later, Edgar is a confident high school graduate, and he enjoys coming to the Kids and Teens Circle group every week with his sister and twin brother.  “Edgar has not only opened up with his feelings but is also an active member in the group and in his family,” says Jacqueline Nederlk, LCSW, a licensed therapist who facilitates the Winnetka Kids and Teens Circle. “He is kind and loving to his five-year-old niece and is an amazing supporter to his twin brother.”

Sadly, Edgar’s mother passed away two years ago. At that time, Edgar knew that his friends in the group would be there for him and would be able to understand what it’s like to have your family’s world turned upside down by cancer.

“The group has helped me grow into who I am now,” says Edgar. “When I first started going to the group, I would stay quiet and mostly just listen to everybody, but I communicate better with others now. Hearing other people’s experiences and what they went through really helped.”

Now when new members come to the group, Edgar tries to be the one to help them feel comfortable talking. At each meeting, the group members have a chance to share their experiences over the past week and talk through any challenges they are facing. “They help you through a lot of other problems besides cancer,” says Edgar.

There are also opportunities to get creative and have fun. During the holidays, they made gingerbread houses. Another project that meant a lot to Edgar was a “Wish Pillow.” The teens wrote down wishes for their lives and kept them in a small pillow that they took home with them.

Edgar was recently looking at his pillow and realized that his wishes had come true. “My wishes were to find a job and go to college. I have a job, and in a few weeks I’m starting college,” he says.

Cancer can take away a lot of things, but it has not stolen Edgar’s dreams for his future. And one day at a time, he is working hard to make his own wishes come true.

Kids and Teens Circle is a support group with locations in Westlake Village, Winnetka (bilingual), and Oxnard (bilingual) for children or adolescents who have a family member with cancer. The group is offered by the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara and is absolutely free. Each group is facilitated by a licensed professional therapist.  For more information or to donate, visit www.cancersupportvvsb.org or call (805) 379-4777.

Caring is at the Core with Pink Pilates

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The Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara has teamed up with Joe and Clara Pilates Inspired Health Club to offer Pink Pilates – a six-week program designed especially for breast cancer survivors recovering from treatment. The best part? It’s absolutely free.

pilates2“What I loved most was how thorough they are,” says Margie Stewart, a breast cancer survivor and Pink Pilates participant. “The instructors are so kind and thoughtful about our circumstances. I’ve never had anybody break it down so clearly. And they are conscientious about keeping the studio clean…the place is immaculate.”pilates1

Margie, who is in remission, says she wouldn’t have been able to afford to pay out of pocket for pilates classes. Through Pink Pilates, she has learned techniques she can use at home to continue her recovery from cancer treatment. “I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to take pilates in this particular place,” says Margie. “They care…you can tell they care.”

Thank you, Joe & Clara Pilates, for helping us make a difference in the lives of cancer survivors! And thanks to the Ventura County Star for this article featuring Pink Pilates.

If you are interested in making a donation to ensure that we can continue offering these types of programs, please click here.

pilates3Want to participate in Pink Pilates? The program is offered periodically throughout the year and we invite you to check our calendar page for regular updates. If the current session is full, you can join a wait list and we will contact you when space becomes available.