Annual cancer brunch is another opportunity to tap into Gerber Memorial’s many local resources
By Joni Erlewein, NP, Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial
Every year, Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial celebrates cancer survivors and their caregivers during the Cancer Survivors Annual Brunch. This event is an opportunity to share stories of hope, healing, survival and courage. During the brunch, people from all walks of life discuss their journeys, the highs and the lows, the good and bad. In the spirit of faith and fellowship, one theme that comes through during the brunch is loud and clear: that cancer patients and survivors don’t have to face their challenges alone.
This year, when we host our brunch at Tamarac on Saturday, Sept. 15, we’ll hear from survivors who beat the odds. We’ll get to know individuals who found strength through faith and family. And we’ll share information and resources right here in Newaygo County.This last factor is something we’re proud to offer: Thanks to technology, caring staff and a host of free programs, the patients and families we serve in Newaygo County can get what they need right here in the local community.
Take our support groups. Gerber Memorial hosts many free support groups, including one for cancer survivors and patients, held the second Wednesday of every month at Tamarac from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and facilitated by Shelly Klochack, RN. We believe that survivors, caregivers and those undergoing treatment can help make all of us stronger during the journey by sharing our individual stories. So our support groups are meant for anyone who wants the opportunity to learn, listen, and/or share. Gerber Memorial provides free resources, support and encouragement to those touched by cancer. In addition to sharing and support, speakers will also address specific and interesting topics. On Wednesday, Sept. 12, Nurse Practitioner Susan Strickfaden will discuss survivorship. The following month, Gerber Memorial social worker Alice McKenna will discuss healthy coping skills, which can make a positive difference for patients and their families as they cope with the stresses of cancer.
With October approaching, we’ll also be raising awareness about breast cancer and the importance of women to get screened. On Oct. 11, I’ll be sharing some useful information during the free monthly healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies seminars at Tamarac about at-home breast cancer checks, how women can be more proactive and other tips and techniques for detecting this disease. Gerber Memorial offers walk-in mammograms at the Betty Ford Breast Care Services department on the first floor of Gerber Memorial’s main hospital building. As a general guideline, we encourage women age 45 to 54 to get mammograms every year. Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every two years, or can continue yearly screening.
We’re especially proud of our financial counseling service, led by Breanna Slater, who works tirelessly to help patients in need and low-income families get the support they need to afford medications and treatments. At our survivors’ brunch, Breanna will share a few remarks about what she does and how she can help.
Combined with Gerber Memorial’s many other services that can help patients and their families get comprehensive care right in our community, our healthcare team – professionals from many diverse departments – is honored to provide the care patients need to better face the cancer journey.
Joni Erlewein is a nurse practitioner at Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial’s Cancer Center in Fremont.
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