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Canton-Potsdam Hospital offering new cancer support group

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POTSDAM - A new support group for those newly diagnosed with cancer or those living with a diagnosis of cancer, and their loved ones, is being launched by the staff of Canton-Potsdam Hospital’s Center for Cancer Care. The group’s first meeting was held Wednesday in the Center’s Conference Room.

The group is open to anyone with a cancer diagnosis or to those who are providing support to a person with a cancer diagnosis. Light refreshments will be available.

“Medical science has made huge strides in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, but it can still be a frightening and disorienting diagnosis,” said Jackie G. Dow, patient navigator at the CPH Center for Cancer Care.

“I’ve worked many years with those who are living with the diagnosis, and the biggest common factor among patients is their need for information and support,” she said. “There are so many questions, from how to deal with medication side-effects to how to pay for treatment, to preparing children for the news of a cancer diagnosis. Most patients benefit from talking to people who’ve been there.”

Dow is coordinating the group, along with colleagues Tom J. Burcume and Erin Knack, LMSW. All three have worked with cancer patients for over 10 years. Dow joined CPH as its mobile mammography coordinator and later served as interim director of the cancer service at CPH. She guided the formation of a successful support group for survivors of breast cancer and is a certified patient navigator.

Burcume has been a patient transport driver and block-cutter (cutting the materials that block radiation of healthy tissue during treatment). He has been instrumental in the successful prostate cancer survivor support group coordinated through CPH and is an artist who also hosted art therapy workshops for cancer survivors.

Knack is a licensed social worker who sees patients of the Center for Cancer Care as part of their treatment. She has a personal family experience of cancer’s impact on daily life and as a social worker is very familiar with the behavioral, social, and lifestyle changes cancer may bring. She is also knowledgeable about local and national organizations and services available to people living with cancer.

“We also work on lifestyle-related prevention as well as education about early detection through free screenings, through the St. Lawrence County tobacco cessation program, and through monitoring and management of lifestyle factors available through our primary care centers,” said Dow.

“The incidence of many types of cancers in St. Lawrence County is well above that for the rest of the state, particularly for lung, esophageal, and colorectal cancers” she added, citing public health figures. “It’s important for these patients to have social support and comfort in addition to the advanced technology and clinical care they receive here. Cancer isn’t something you should have to face alone.”

Staff members of CPH’s Center for Cancer Care work closely with the center’s medical specialists in oncology on activities related to cancer education, screening, outreach, and treatment.

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