The local branch of CanSurmount will host two special events in the coming weeks that illustrate the group’s mission of support and advocacy for cancer patients and their families.
© Herald photo by Matt Gardner
CanSurmount Prince Albert chapter co-ordinator Donna Christopherson (left) and cancer survivor Gail Baerwald help publicize two upcoming events taking place at Wesley United Church. Saskatoon social worker Debra Down will offer a presentation on fatigue in cancer patients on Tuesday, May 21, while the group will host its annual potluck picnic on Monday, June 3.
On Tuesday, May 21 at 7 p.m., guest speaker Debra Down, a social worker at the Cancer Centre in Saskatoon, will offer a presentation sharing her extensive research on fatigue in cancer patients undergoing treatment.
Later, on Monday, June 3 at 6 p.m., the group will hold its annual potluck picnic for National Cancer Survivors’ Day. Cancer survivors and their families are welcomed to enjoy refreshments, company and entertainment.
“We used to have a barbecue,” branch co-ordinator Donna Christopherson said.
“Now we just have it indoors at the same place where we have our meetings … We have entertainment and just a social time where people can sort of relax and just let people know who they can contact in the summer if they need something.”
Both events will take place at Wesley United Church, located at 65 11th St. E.
CanSurmount is a support group established under the umbrella of the Canadian Cancer Society that provides care through its one-to-one visiting program, as well as regular group meetings held on the third Tuesday of every month.
The group’s Prince Albert chapter has been in existence for almost 40 years, with three original members still regular participants today. Over those four decades, the group has provided support and information for scores of cancer patients in the P.A. area.
One such beneficiary of the group is cancer survivor Gail Baerwald, who found the support of CanSurmount members invaluable during her recent battle with breast cancer.
“I’d already been diagnosed when I first went to a meeting,” Baerwald recalled. “We just got to meet other people who were going through similar things you were, and were open to advising you what kind of things they experienced.”
The meetings are open to anyone who’s been touched by cancer. Donna Christopherson
Baerwald was originally referred to the group by a pair of friends who had had their own experiences with cancer and subsequently invited her to attend a women’s supper.
Though Baerwald’s husband played a tireless role in supporting her during the illness, she found the resources provided by CanSurmount also went a long way towards easing her ordeal.
“I had a very positive attitude,” she said. “I read my literature where they give very excellent information about my type of cancer and about what to expect, and so I just read all the literature and followed what they had to say.
“There was always a door open to contact somebody from the cancer clinic if you needed more information, and so I just had a very positive experience going through it.”
Another example of support provided by CanSurmount is a special bus service staffed by volunteers that helps transport cancer patients to radiation treatments in Saskatoon.
Cancer patients and survivors may gain the most from the group, but they are by no means the only ones invited to attend support meetings.
“We don’t really have younger children attend meetings, but spouses and anyone that’s connected are welcome,” Christopherson said.
“The meetings are open to anyone who’s been touched by cancer.”
Interested residents are invited to attend the next meeting or contact Canadian Cancer Society manager Charlene Bernard at 764-4808 for more information.