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Ask the Expert: Tips for Navigating the Holidays

JudyCalvinMany thanks to Guest Blogger Judy Calvin, MS for providing some practical tips for navigating the holidays. These tips are great for everyone, but especially people dealing with cancer, whether patients or caregivers. 

Judy is presenting a free workshop on Thursday, December 17, 2015 on Caring for the Caregiver. Expect more helpful tips and tools for managing and reducing challenges of being a caregiver to someone with cancer. Details here.

The holiday season is upon us once again only this time you are dealing with cancer at the same time. Look at the list below and see if you can incorporate some of the simple ideas into your life and create a more enjoyable and less stressful holiday season.

  • Have family bring food to you or have meals catered.
  • If you can’t maintain traditions, start new ones.
  • Is there anything that makes you sad about the holidays? If there is, face it and be open to looking at it differently.
  • Say “no” to requests that are draining such as hosting holiday meals.
  • Avoid stressful, negative or controlling people or situations.
  • Factor in time to rest.
  • Don’t expect others to understand how you feel or what you need. Instead, ask for what you need.
  • Don’t expect more of yourself than you are able or willing to give.
  • If you don’t want to send cards or buy gifts, don’t.
  • Stay present in your life and be mindful of your moments.
  • Be grateful for something every day.

Judy Calvin, MS, is a teacher, grief and chemical dependency counselor, and metaphysical minister. Judy served as a hospice chaplain for 7 years providing spiritual counseling and grief services to patients and families. Currently, she is heading a private spiritual counseling and healing practice and has extensive training in Reiki. Join us at Judy’s next presentation on Reiki on January 14, 2016 from 2:30-4:00pm at 530 Hampshire Road, Westlake Village, CA. To RSVP or learn more call 805.379.4777.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Elaine Foley

Volunteer Elaine Foley (right) with Program Assistant Kaley Moore

Volunteer Elaine Foley (right) with Program Assistant Kaley Moore

For nonprofit organizations like Cancer Support Community, statistics are a vital part of success. Who are we serving? Are we meeting their needs? Where do our members live? Do we have enough programs for caregivers, children, teens, speakers of other languages? Without tracking who we serve and how we serve them, CSC would be in the dark when it comes to making our program as helpful as possible to as many as possible.

That’s where Elaine Foley comes in. She has come to CSC twice a week for two years to do data entry for our program statistics, all on a volunteer basis. Anyone who has ever done data entry knows it is not the most exciting task in the world, but Elaine dutifully and diligently does the work, freeing up the staff to focus on serving CSC members.

“I literally could not do my job without her,” says Program Assistant Kaley Moore. “Her dedication and incredible work ethic are the reasons our stats run so smoothly. She is one of my VIP volunteers and I am so grateful for her.

After seeing the CSC building in Westlake Village many times near her house, Elaine decided to walk in and ask how she could help. The staff had plenty of work for her, tracking attendance of the organization’s many workshops and classes. Two years later, Elaine says she looks forward to seeing everyone at the office each week and loves giving back.

The first word that comes to mind when I think of CSC is ‘cheerful,’” says Elaine. “It’s a lovely group of people who work in the office and they do so much good in the community. Cancer is such a scourge in this country so I like being able to do my part to help fight against it.”

If ever a person had an excuse to stay home instead of giving back, it would be Elaine. Eight years ago she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and it inhibits her from being able to work. In addition, her mother is in hospice care suffering from liver cancer. But Elaine sees volunteering as a great way to stay active and not let her challenges get the best of her.

“I like having something to do and it helps keep me occupied during the day. As a volunteer you not only give back to the community but you stave off depression by staying active,” says Elaine.

This is true service: someone who is dealing with her own serious challenges, yet still showing up consistently and doing the work to help others through their challenges. Thank you so much for your contribution, Elaine!