The Wellness Community's Cancer Caregiving Initiative Highlights Walnut Creek Woman for Outstanding Efforts

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The Wellness Community recognizes volunteer from Walnut Creek, CA for excellence in cancer caregiving

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The Balancing Act: Tips for the Cancer Caregiver

Dottie Leven, a Walnut Creek woman, was recognized today for her outstanding cancer caregiving efforts by The Wellness Community (TWC). Dottie's inspiring story has been highlighted in TWC's newest book, "The Balancing Act: Tips for the Cancer Caregiver". The book features personal stories of cancer caregivers across the country and tools for individuals just beginning their journey as caregivers. The Balancing Act is part of the growing movement to empower cancer caregivers in their journey to be more effective, reduce their own distress, and find hope.

The Balancing Act is an extension of The Star Campaign, an initiative launched last summer that enables patients and survivors to recognize and share the stories of their Stars--their caregivers. The inspiring stories of caregiving featured in the book have been chosen from more than 300 Star Walk of Fame entries on http://www.starcampaign.org.

Dottie's story exemplifies Tip #1--Find a Caregiver Support System. Soon after her husband Andy's diagnosis, Dottie began attending TWC's caregiver support groups. It didn't take long for her to realize the value in talking to other caregivers who shared similar experiences. Andy loved to see how these weekly support groups rejuvenated Dottie. "We were in this journey together and it was comforting to see that she was getting the support she needed also." Dottie joins others to shed light on caregiving experiences that often go unnoticed.

"It is so important for caregivers to find ways to sustain themselves while they take on the tasks of being there for their loved one with cancer. Dottie is an example of how to do just that," says Margaret Stauffer, MFT, Program Director.

The Wellness Community San Francisco East Bay, located in Walnut Creek, provides a comprehensive program of education and support for both people with cancer and their loved ones. Services include support groups led by therapist facilitators, educational programs on a variety of topics related to managing treatment and recovery from cancer, and creative expression, stress reduction and specialized exercise programs such as yoga and guided imagery. These services are provided free of charge in order to be as accessible as possible to families in their time of need.

In conjunction with the book's launch, TWC today released the results of a new national cancer caregiver and patient/survivor survey. These findings provide insight into the needs of caregivers and affirm the need for a strong cancer caregiver network. Some key survey findings are as follows:

While patients and caregivers seek assistance from and ask questions of doctors, fewer than one in four caregivers are aware of the potential resources available to them after their loved one's initial diagnosis. While doctors or other medical professionals walked six in ten (62%) cancer patients/survivors through resources available to them during the initial diagnosis, fewer than one in four caregivers (24%) were walked through caregiver resources.

Many cancer patients and caregivers still have questions after the initial doctor visit. More than three-quarters of cancer patients (77%) and caregivers (79%) said they had questions about the disease or treatment after the initial doctor visit.

Cancer patients rely on many other resources for support and information during their cancer experience. Patients are most apt to rely on different types of people during their cancer experience, particularly family members. Nearly nine in ten report they turned to family members during their cancer experience, while eight in ten turned to doctors and friends. Approximately three in four cancer patients/survivors (78%) and caregivers (72%) went to a Web site specifically to learn more about the illness.

These results reflect the growing need for resources to educate both patients and caregivers about the cancer experience. To order your free copy of The Balancing Act, visit http://www.starcampaign.org. The Star Campaign and The Balancing Act: Tips for the Caregiver are made possible thanks to a charitable donation from GlaxoSmithKline Oncology.

The Wellness Community San Francisco East Bay, based in Walnut Creek, CA, helps people with cancer and their loved ones enhance health and well-being by providing a professional program of emotional support, education, and hope. The Wellness Community offers free comprehensive programs include cancer support groups, educational workshops and stress reduction classes.

Editor Contact:
Margaret Stauffer, The Wellness Community (SF/East Bay), 925-933-0107
Bill Gram-Reefer, WORLDVIEW, 925-459-8537

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