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Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center boosts cancer outreach efforts

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OGDENSBURG — Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center’s Richard E. Winter Cancer Center is planning to step up its community outreach efforts this year, starting with a women’s cancer support group that will meet for the first time Jan. 14. The support group will meet from 5 to 6:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of every month at the cancer center, 5 Lyon Place.

Kay A. Zimmer, social worker and breast patient navigator at the Winter Cancer Center, will facilitate the group.

“We had formed a group years ago,” Ms. Zimmer said. “But it can be difficult to keep support groups going, especially in rural areas. But because a few patients had asked, we decided to start it up again.”

The group will be open to women of all ages with all forms of cancer. Topics addressed in support groups may include education, exploration and expression of feelings and stress reduction techniques.

With emotional support, it is easier to deal with the health and social problems associated with cancer, Ms. Zimmer said.

“I think it can be very helpful for patients to talk to other people who are having similar experiences,” she said. “They can learn coping tools and build camaraderie between those who are going through the same thing.”

Ms. Zimmer said the bonds formed between members of support groups can reduce stress, fear and anxiety and help promote healing.

“I would say that overall support groups can improve the quality of life for people with cancer. They reduce stress and anxiety and allow people to cope with their diagnosis in a more positive way,” she said.

Increasing support groups is one of the many ways Claxton-Hepburn is expanding its services, Community Outreach Coordinator Michele P. Catlin said. “We are working to coordinate a five-year plan with different service groups based on recommendations by the Department of Health to get adults and children moving and eating better to prevent chronic diseases,” she said.

“We also plan on offering some more free breast cancer and skin cancer screenings,” Ms. Catlin said. “We are also hoping to offer a free colonoscopy screenings this year.”

The center will continue its diabetes prevention program, tobacco cessation workshops, diabetes support group and four free health fairs for hospital employees and visitors.

“We saw remarkable lifestyle changes in the people who attended our diabetes prevention program,” Ms. Catlin said. “There are a lot of barriers in rural areas, including transportation, social and education issues. By us going out into the community and providing these services at a free or reduced cost, if we can reach one person we might not have reached otherwise then to me, it is worth it.”

For more information, call the Winter Cancer Center at 393-2314.

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