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Day brings hope to cancer victims

October 23, 2005|By BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - On June 30, Donna Nordin of Fayetteville, Pa., was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Her course of treatment, called neo-adjuvant, is fairly new, and involves taking chemotherapy before having surgery, she said.

"Some women have it to help them avoid surgery," Nordin said, although she already knows she will need a mastectomy. But doing the chemo first still has its advantages.

"It makes it less likely that the surgery will cause the cancer to spread," she said.

After the surgery, which is scheduled for December, Nordin will learn whether she needs radiation or more chemotherapy.

Nordin, who turned 40 after her diagnosis, was among those attending the fourth annual Day of Hope on Saturday, a free gathering for newly diagnosed cancer patients, cancer survivors, caregivers, health-care providers and family members.

About 50 people attended the event, sponsored by the Franklin County Chapter of the American Cancer Society (ACS) and held at Falling Spring Presbyterian Church.

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Yoga has been a big help, Nordin said. She said she varies her yoga routine after a chemo treatment, when she is feeling more fatigued.

Nordin has had a lot of support, she added. Friends help out with her children, ages 7 and 4, on her chemo day and for several days afterwards while she regains her strength.

"The ACS locally has been wonderful," Nordin said. She has a Reach to Recovery volunteer, who gets in touch with her often, takes her to support group meetings and talks about her concerns.

"And she looks so great, 10 or 11 years after (having breast cancer)," Nordin said.

Workshops for the day were Nutrition through Treatment and Recovery, Yoga for Relaxation and Wellness, When Hospice is Needed and Legal Issues.

Cancer is second only to cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death among adults in the United States.

Donna Kauffman, a local yoga instructor and massage therapist, demonstrated seated yoga postures in her workshop. Cancer patients find the ancient art helpful in relieving stress and enhancing relaxation, she said.

A yoga practitioner for 27 years, Kauffman said it is important to become aware of the body and know oneself "from the inside out."

In the Nutrition workshop, registered dietitian Diane Stowell said that while many cancer patients lose their appetites, nutrition is critical to staying on track with chemo and radiation treatments.

After treatment, the diet should be heavily plant-based, Stowell said.

"Have legumes instead of meat several times a week," she said.

The fruit and vegetable group is "very critical," Stowell added, with five servings of colorful fruits and vegetables per day being optimum. Lower-fat dairy products, high-fiber foods and lower-fat cooking methods also are important.

Stowell acknowledged that, with so many studies being done on nutrients, "you can read volumes and volumes and come out with your head spinning."

Her recommendation is to use moderation, and to have the diet consist largely of whole grains, green leafy vegetables and fruit.

Attending the event was Helen Doleman of Chambersburg, who is three years out of treatment for colon cancer, which included 18 chemotherapy treatments and 24 radiation treatments. So far, she is doing well, she said.

Shelby Mackey, diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2000, was treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

The radiation treatments took only 10 or 15 minutes, she said. "I went in on my lunch break," she said.

Now a Reach to Recovery volunteer and a member of the cancer society's board of directors, Mackey said she feels blessed.

"I met so many wonderful people," Mackey said. "And I had wonderful family and friends for support. Having a positive attitude is one of the most important things."

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