Surviving + Thriving – Envisioning Your Future

Card Created by: Karen Page
Suggested Title: Surviving + Thriving – Envisioning Your Future
Instructor (+credentials): Karen Page, LSW
Contact Information for External Presenter:
Suggested Days, Dates & Times: Tuesday, July 21 6p-7p
Registration Required? yes
Setup and Supply needs: room A- chairs and tables or conference room
Capacity: min 5, maximum 12
Participant Type: post treatment and their caregivers
Is this occurring at both sites? no
Description:

When cancer treatment ends, many people find themselves wondering how to think about what to do next. In this group, we will explore ways to make sense of your cancer experience and talk about ways to move forward once cancer treatment is behind you.

Spotlight on Volunteers – Phyllis Benoit

For more than a decade, Phyllis Benoit has been a positive and dependable presence as a volunteer at the Dempsey Center in Lewiston.

In today’s spotlight, Phyllis speaks with us about her role at the Center and what makes it such a special environment for volunteers.

Q: How long have you been a Dempsey Center volunteer?

A: I started volunteering at the Dempsey Center in late summer of 2008.

Q: What’s your role here?

A: I am a client services assistant (CSA). My job as a CSA is to help the client services specialists at the front desk. I help to answer the phones, greet new clients that come in, make phone calls to confirm appointments, help with paperwork, data entry, and all the other functions involved with front office duties (photocopying, mail, typing, etc.).

Along with a couple of other volunteers, I also make caring cards for the Center. These are handmade cards that the Center sends out to clients, their families, and supporters of the Center. They include sympathy, thank you, and thinking of you cards.

Q: Why did you become a Dempsey Center volunteer?

A: I knew there was another life after retirement and I wanted to do volunteer work. I initially started making cards with the caring card group. I then attended an open house at the Center and knew at that point that I had found the place where I wanted to volunteer.

Q: What makes the Dempsey Center a good place to volunteer?

A: The Center has a warm and welcoming feeling the moment you walk through the doors. They serve cancer patients, survivors, families and caregivers. They offer support groups, fitness classes, and many different programs. The Center supports all ages from youth to adults. As a volunteer, you get to experience another whole aspect of life.

Q; What would you say to someone who was thinking about becoming a Dempsey Center volunteer?

A: I would tell them to check out the Dempsey Center website for open volunteer positions. They can apply online or call the Center to set up a time to meet with our volunteer coordinator. You will not be sorry. You will walk away with much more than you are giving. It’s a feeling that you have inside that is hard to describe.

About the Dempsey Center
The Dempsey Center is committed to making life better for people managing the impact of cancer by providing support for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. With locations in Lewiston and South Portland, the Dempsey Center provides services that ease the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment. Understanding that a cancer diagnosis impacts the whole family, the Dempsey Center provides cancer support that feels good for children, teens and families. All services are provided at no charge to the people who use them.

Tools for Your Coping Toolbox: Expressive Arts

If you or someone you love is impacted by cancer, you know how challenging the experience can be.  Facing physical, emotional, financial and social stress – all at the same time – can sometimes lead to anxiety, depression, and feelings of burnout.

A more calm and peaceful state of mind is possible when you find ways to deal with these stressors and process the emotions they give rise to. In addition to meeting with a Dempsey Center counselor or attending a support group, you might find it helpful to attend an expressive arts workshop.

What are expressive arts?

Unlike art created with the goal of making a specific product, expressive arts are all about the process of creating, offering a powerful outlet for people to explore and release strong thoughts and feelings. Artistic activities such as painting, listening to or playing music, collage making and writing all offer this type of creative outlet that can help people experience healing and growth.

For Gerri, participating in a four-week journaling workshop at the Dempsey Center helped her come to terms with her husband’s advanced cancer diagnosis. “There is something about putting my pen to paper that really opens things up for me,” Gerri noted.  “Until the class, I didn’t even realize how much I was keeping everything locked inside, and how much of a toll that was taking on me.  Simply writing things out in response to the prompts the instructor offered, and then sharing the pieces that I wanted to with other participants, really lightened my load.”

The Dempsey Center offers expressive arts workshops for adults and youth. “People sometimes forget what an impact cancer has on the youngest members of the family,” Kailie Sullivan, Youth and Family Services Manager reminds us. “Art—like play— is a very natural way for children to express their feelings.  Talk therapies that may work well for adults are not often the most natural fit for kids and teens—and sometimes not for adults, either. Bringing expressive arts into our counseling sessions as well as our programs has really helped many people find some relief from the constant worry and stress of a cancer impact.”

If you are dealing with a cancer diagnosis, either your own or that of a loved one, consider attending an expressive arts class at either Dempsey Center location. You’ll be glad you did!

About the Dempsey Center
The Dempsey Center is committed to making life better for people managing the impact of cancer. With locations in South Portland and Lewiston, the Dempsey Center provides services that help individuals and families maintain physical and emotional wellness as they deal with a cancer diagnosis. Understanding that cancer impacts the whole family, the Dempsey Center provides specialized services for children and teens and their families. All services are provided at no charge.

Spotlight on Fundraisers: Mr. Bennett’s Bunch

Mr. Bennett’s Bunch is one of the teams that participates in the annual Dempsey Challenge. First created in honor of Robert Bennett, a beloved educator from Auburn who died in November of 2012, the team has evolved to honor not only Mr. Bennett, but others who have faced cancer, including survivors and loved ones who have passed away. In today’s spotlight we speak with Matt Bennett of Kennebunk, Maine, one of Robert Bennett’s three sons.

Q: Tell us about how Mr. Bennett’s Bunch got started?

A: My father, Robert Bennett, was an educator and administrator for many years at Edward Little High School in Auburn. He was well known in the community and in our family for his kindness, generosity, and his passion for helping others.

When he was diagnosed and was undergoing treatment in 2012 for glioblastoma (a type of brain cancer), we created a Challenge team called Mr. Bennett’s Bunch. It became a tradition, and this year will be our ninth year as a team.

Q: Who are the team members?

A: My mother, Diane, myself, my brothers Kevin and Rob, and many other family members and friends walk, run, or ride in the Challenge each year. Our team size has fluctuated over the years from just a few to nearly a dozen participants. Over the years we have had a cousin join us to ride who was subsequently diagnosed with cancer, has successfully won her battle, and continues to ride with us.

Our team members have each had their own friends and family members have their own cancer diagnoses, and so it seems over the years we have more and more reasons to ride, even though our team name stays the same. Over the last year, my partner lost his mother to lung cancer and now we ride in her memory, too.

Q: What is your favorite part about participating in the Dempsey Challenge?

A: Positivity, hope, and a reason to return to Lewiston-Auburn for a fun and productive event. We have countless ways that cancer has touched our family and friends, and to have the opportunity to be a part of this uplifting event each year is something we are thankful for and look forward to each fall. It’s a great chance to come back to my hometown and be surrounded by great people working toward a common mission.

Q: What would you like people to know about your father?

A: His obituary, which provides a great picture of the remarkable man he was, can be found here: https://www.funeralalternatives.net/obituaries/obit-details.php?Bennett-405

He rode in the Dempsey Challenge the year prior to his diagnosis, as a new hobby he’d picked up with his sister Tammy White (also a member of our team, Mr. Bennett’s Bunch). One section of the course traversed Megquier Hill, the road he grew up on and later raised his boys on.

Q: Have you encouraged friends and family members to become Dempsey Center donors or fundraisers?

A: Yes, and our team continues to evolve as the years go by. What a fun tradition this has become. The fundraising is easy with social media, the required amounts are attainable, and the feeling you get as a participant or volunteer pays you back tenfold.

About the Dempsey Center
The Dempsey Center is committed to making life better for people managing the impact of cancer. With locations in South Portland and Lewiston, the Dempsey Center provides services that help individuals and families maintain physical and emotional wellness as they deal with a cancer diagnosis. Understanding that cancer impacts the whole family, the Dempsey Center provides specialized services for children and teens and their families. All services are provided at no charge.

Cancer-Related Fatigue: It’s Real. It’s Common. There’s Help.

If you have experienced cancer-related fatigue, you are not alone.

Fatigue is a common problem for cancer patients, with a majority experiencing some level of fatigue during treatment. According to researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, approximately one-third of cancer survivors will have persistent fatigue for a number of years post-treatment. Cancer-related fatigue profoundly affects quality of life for both patients and their families.

Cancer-related fatigue is defined as a distressing, persistent sense of physical, emotional, and/or cognitive tiredness or exhaustion related to cancer or cancer treatment. Cancer-related fatigue significantly interferes with daily life and does not go away with getting more rest.

Getting the Support You Need

To help cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers learn more about cancer-related fatigue and how to cope with it, the Dempsey Center offers Fatigue Factor, a monthly workshop where patients, survivors, and caregivers can:

If you would like help dealing with cancer-related fatigue and you have never been to the Dempsey Center, please call us at 207-774-2200(South Portland) or 207-795-8250(Lewiston) to schedule an orientation session.

Other Resources You Can Use

These helpful handouts are available to download and print:

These online resources may be helpful to you.

About the Dempsey Center
The Dempsey Center is committed to making life better for people managing the impact of cancer. With locations in South Portland and Lewiston, the Dempsey Center provides services that help individuals and families maintain physical and emotional wellness as they deal with a cancer diagnosis. Understanding that cancer impacts the whole family, the Dempsey Center provides specialized services for children and teens and their families. All services are provided at no charge.

The Legacy of Jane Staley ~ Mentor, Friend, Community Builder

This guest blog post was written by Laura Jaquays, Founder & Director of Art HOPE in Ogunquit, Maine. Laura leads watercolor painting classes at the Dempsey Center in South Portland.

My story with the Cancer Community Center began in early 1998 when my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I was the wellness program coordinator at the Women’s Health Consortium in Portsmouth, NH, a grassroots organization serving women in southern York County and a partner in the Maine Breast & Cervical Cancer Program. I wanted to learn more about the cancer killing my mother.

A nurse from York Hospital suggested that I contact Jane Staley, a woman diagnosed with the disease in 1994 who was an advocate for ovarian cancer awareness. We soon connected, and with her generous enthusiasm she helped me facilitate an informational program at our women’s wellness center. We had over 30 women with family and friends at the evening event, and Jane was a wonderfully nurturing leader who was well-informed and upbeat. Even while battling her own cancer she was tireless and stayed long after the program answering the many questions and soothing the fears of our participants.

With my mother in Florida dying, Jane became a mentor and friend who recognized my creative gifts and encouraged me to pursue my interest in creativity and healing. She shared her vision for the Cancer Community Center and I attended the grand opening event in South Portland, 18 years ago. I’ll never forget that night when she told me I should consider being a teacher at the Center. Though I’d been facilitating creative wellness workshops for a few years I never identified myself as a “teacher”, and what she said resonated deeply with me. Jane reminded me that the Center is a community, and the services and programs will support individuals in a group environment. She believed in me and gave me a nudge and confidence to become a community artist and to do what I know and what I love.

We stayed in touch until her death in 2001, and finally in 2004 I began facilitating a series of workshops at the Cancer Community Center. During the past decade I’ve expanded the creative wellness classes I teach in clinical and community environments, and in 2011 I founded Art HOPE, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting health and well-being through free expressive arts programs for people living with cancer and other long-term illness, and the community at large.

My Simple Watercolors for Well-Being class has been offered at the Center since 2008 and we have a creative continuum of participants who help support the painting process in a lively open-studio environment. We make a joke in every class that there is nothing simple about watercolors. I describe how to use materials and the organic process of painting, and mostly I give participants creative confidence. We have painters at all skill levels in the class who mentor first-timers and give the support of creative fellowship. The class has evolved with the participants, and there are a core group of artists who have expanded the community art process and are offering an Open Studio class session every Thursday at the center. Community art in action.

For all my friends at the Cancer Community Center, thank you for the creativity and healing we have shared. Many of you know that I’ve been writing a book about creative wellness and the Art HOPE story, which will be published this fall. What follows is an excerpt, the second to the last paragraph in the book, that describes an experience in my watercolor class at the Cancer Community Center and a precious moment of hope. Recognize your angels, Jane Staley’s legacy continues to inspire.

About the Dempsey Center
The Dempsey Center is committed to making life better for people managing the impact of cancer by providing support for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. With locations in Lewiston and South Portland, the Dempsey Center provides services that ease the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment. Understanding that a cancer diagnosis impacts the whole family, the Dempsey Center provides cancer support that feels good for children, teens and families. All services are provided at no charge to the people who use them.