Cancer Awareness Month

Support group helps Arizona families cope with cancer

Posted 11/30/21

One in three people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and nearly 1.9 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed this year.

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Cancer Awareness Month

Support group helps Arizona families cope with cancer

Posted

One in three people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and nearly 1.9 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed this year.

While a diagnosis is frightening, local support groups seek to provide help to cancer patients and caretakers.

Barbara Blue, a participant of the support group Cancer Support Community Arizona (CSCA), was diagnosed with Metastatic Thyroid Cancer at the beginning of 2020. CSCA offers dozens of support groups and programs each month in Central Arizona, including residents of Glendale.

“I was overwhelmed with fear, loneliness, and dread of what lay in my future,” she said, describing the CSCA as, “…a right shining star in the darkness.”

What is cancer?

According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer is a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells that can result in death if not treated. Over the years it has been understood what can cause cancer, but the reason as to why it appears is still something we know nothing about.

Eighty percent of people diagnosed in the United States are 55 years or older. Survival rates have increased since the 1960s as well as rates in treatment and early diagnosis, and age and the type of cancer vary with survival rates.

Cancer impacts not only physical health, but mentally takes a heavier toll on its victims. Depression, fear and anxiety are expected when one is recently diagnosed or dealing with this disease.

Glendale support groups, like CSCA, help in any way they can. They offer emotional and social support with more than 100 programs including support groups, social activities, mind/body therapies, nutritional counseling, educational seminars, and 24/7 online support.

“I wanted to give back to an organization that supports anyone impacted by cancer, including family members,” said Alex Anastasio, a cancer survivor who now volunteers at CSCA.

Youth and young adults have a greater chance of experiencing depression compared to adults.

Oftentimes, because the symptoms for cancer are similar to depression and anxiety (fatigue, lack of sleep, decreased appetite) not everyone reaches out for help. This can be dangerous because patients might be less likely to go through with treatments, stay up to date on screening tests or exercise. They’re more likely to turn to drinking and missing doctor’s appointments, some people report.

CSCA has opportunities for those who wish to help: to volunteer, donate, and host virtual fundraisers.

“I volunteer … because I know it truly makes a difference in the lives of those impacted by cancer,” Anastasio said.

Editor’s Note: Gianna Montiel is a student reporter at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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