Making Memories and Sharing Gifts from Our Past

TONI ABBEY | ONCOLOGY NURSE NAVIGATOR | AUGUST 12 2017

I have read that the connection to where we came from can frame our vision of where we are going. It seems so naturally-occurring that when we preserve memories, we organically enable our families to embrace their lives. Below I have listed some ideas to archive these memories for them.

1. Make a special box of memories and personal items for each child. Pin a note to each item with a memory attached it. For instance, “This was the outfit you wore when we brought you home from the hospital.”

2. Create a videotape of you reading your child’s favorite story to them. Not only will the memories of you reading together be enforced, but your child will have a lasting recording of your voice. Consider videotaping other ways you spend time with your kids — laughing, playing, holding them, and praying with them. Every time your kids replay these videos they will re-experience the feelings of your presence.

3. Ask your children what their favorite family time memories are and record it. Remembering the past gives your children stability and can serve as a stepping stone helping your children move forward.

4. Share information about where your kids came from – not just about you, as their parent, but of their grandparents, great-grandparents, and extended family. Share what your opinion of events such as “why grandpa chose to keep the farm.” Retell stories and advice that has been passed down through the generations.

5. Make a recipe book with your favorite family foods. Write in the margin whose favorite recipe each recipe was, and for what event you’ve made it. “Violet’s favorite macaroni and cheese – and most requested birthday meal.”

6. Create a Timeline of your life – insert baby and class photos, and photos of hallmark occasions.

7. In your handwriting write your favorite way to say goodnight to your children. “Goodnight my sleepy-time bear. I love you to the moon.” Transfer it onto fabric and sew into a cuddly throw pillow.

8. Photos tell stories. Collect and upload your favorite photos to a movie format, with your favorite music in the background. Make sure to include the entire family and extended family. This promotes the connection to family members and helps cement memories.

9. Identify a unique memento for when your children are older, such as an engraved pocket knife, a watch, a piece of jewelry, a necklace embossed with your fingerprints on them, or a copy of your favorite book. Attach a note to it explaining what it means to you, and why.

10. Make a framed collage of your family’s favorite sayings, who says them, and why they say it, i.e. “Don’t let the bedbug’s bite.”

11. Share your wishes and dreams for each of your children. Record a conversation (either written or by voice) that you would like your children to know about you that they may be too young to know and understand now.

12. Secure a professional photographer or a good friend to snap photos of your family laughing and playing together.

13. Record a story of who you are, where you came from, your extended family, your family traditions, how you met your children’s father/mother, the character traits you saw in one another, and the unusual ways (with examples) he/she is an incredible parent now. Share your wishes and dreams for your family as a whole.

14. Frame a collage or a multitude of your favorite photographs in black and white depicting memories of activities of you and your family, spouse and children. Photographs are images that last forever.

15. Gather a special box and fill it with an array of your favorite scents. Your perfume, your hand cream, and a list of your favorite brand and scent of dish soap, laundry detergent, dryer sheets. Don’t forget to add your favorite scent and brand candles. Scent has a most provocative connection to our memories.

16. Underline everything that strikes you as important in the books you read. Write ideas and notes in the margins. If there is a heartfelt book you would like your children to have, write in the margins, and underline the same in that book. What an incredible way to create a unique connection to your thoughts and ideas that may have played a part in framing your beliefs.

17. Assemble playlists of your favorite music and songs; and create a playlist of songs for each of your children.

18. Write a list of your family traditions, of your parent’s traditions that you have carried on, and why they are important to you. List the holiday traditions and other routines or traditions, such as:

a. A monthly picnic in the mountains, rain, snow or sunshine.
b. Our taco picnic on the river every Summer Solstice.
c. Chicken dinner on Sunday evenings with Gram & Pop.
d. Family Game Night and Family Movie Night.
e. No one leaves the dinner table until they have told the family about their day.

19. Maybe one of the easiest ways to preserve memories is to keep a journal. Add practical advice about living, and character-building advice only parents can share. Offer encouragement. Write the things that bring you joy and contentment, your favorite everything – colors, scents, places and sanctuaries. Share your belief system and your spirituality. What things may you have done differently in your life? Tell about what it was like for you growing up. Add a collection of your personal likes and dislikes and why.

20. Write a letter to each child. It’s very consoling to children to hear how much their parents love them. Include things you appreciate and adore them. Add life advice, and your hopes and dreams for your child’s future. Share the qualities you see in each child and let them know the reasons you know they are going to make the world a better place. Share advice for hallmark moments – graduations, their first date, driving, marriage, childbirth, parenthood, spirituality, and how to find joy in their chosen career. They can read it over and over, and the more they read it the more they will feel your love and connection.

21. Create a scrapbook of treasured quotes, music, lyrics, poems, movies, scriptures, philosophy, and books.

22. Keep a “Do You Remember When” list for each child.

a. “Do you remember when we would turn the rocks over to look for bugs?
b. “Do you remember when we would take the red wagon to the corner store to buy licorice?”
c. “Do you remember the first time we went fishing and you snagged that big fish?”
d. “Do you remember the day your classmates were making fun of Hank, and you came home from school so saddened by how left out he felt, and you gift-wrapped your wooden helicopter, and wrote him a nice letter telling him you would be his friend. I was so proud of you for caring about his feelings.”

Include memories that illicit an array of feelings and character traits you see and is a validation your recognition of those good qualities. Help them remember the times you and the family were there for them, and your feelings about the memory.

Resources
Writing an Ethical Will – Sharing Your Legacy of Values – This website has real-life examples and Kits that can be ordered to help with the writing process. They also have a virtual writing workshop. Celebrations of Life – Past, Present and Future

“This I Believe” is a nonprofit organization which explores values and beliefs of others through brief essays. They also have curricula for middle school children, and above. The essays can be obtained in podcast format, and are wonderful examples of values and character traits to share in your journal. This I Believe

Etsy has some great ideas for jewelry and gifts, as well as many vendors who do have pieces which can be personalized with fingerprint impressions. Etsy

Family recipe books can be made through Shutterfly Recipe Books. There are several beautiful styles to help customize a collection of family recipes with photographs, while adding an unlimited amount of pages. Any type of personalized books can be created through Shutterfly.

Create your own family cookbook online at Heritage Cookbooks. This could be an extended family project whereby all family members contribute.

Make personalized greeting cards and schedule them to be automatically mailed for you. Cards can be designed and scheduled to be sent one year in advance. Treat by Shutterfly

Linkages & Shoestrings has a collection of reasonably priced pre-printed journals with legacy questions for grandparents, parents, and children.

My Daily Journal is a mobile App for the iPhone and iPad to journal on-the-go. Of course, a benefit is the ability to add photographs to the journal entries and the ability to back-up entries.

Please see our previous article in this three-part series, entitled “Creating Meaningful Moments while Facing a Cancer Diagnosis” where we share ways to include our senses to make everyday memories for our families.  In the meantime, check out our Pinterest board – “Creating & Saving Memories”.

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Holding Courage Retreat for Women with Recent Cancer

TONI ABBEY | ONCOLOGY NURSE NAVIGATOR | JULY 17 2017
Ghost Ranch is once again holding its “Holding Courage Retreat for Women with Recent Cancer.” Ghost Ranch is a beautiful spiritually-drawn sanctuary where Georgia O’Keeffe lived and painted in her lifetime. This retreat is a four day event which begins on Monday, August 28th and continues through Friday, September 1, 2017.  The goal is for women to “spend time in a positive process that melds inner reflection and creativity with spirituality through group discussion and sharing, guided mediation, massage, yoga, body and breath work, and art and music therapy.”  The program ends each day with a refreshing, star-filled sky of earned sleep within the majestic canyons and mesas which surround the Ghost Ranch.  Holding Courage Retreats’ guest fees are based on income. The charges range from $30 to $375 for a four-day residential retreat that includes the program, accommodations, and all meals. For more information, please see Ghost Ranch Holding Courage Retreats or contact Deena and Maureen at HoldingCourageRetreats@gmail.com.

What a wonderful event to share with survivors in our region! Thanks, Maureen and Deena for all your work to provide this wonderful experience for cancer survivors.

 

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Group Support for Parents with Children Facing Cancer

TONI ABBEY | ONCOLOGY NURSE NAVIGATOR | MARCH 8 2017
Childhood cancer represents many incredible and ongoing challenges for the children and their families. Most childhood cancers in our region are treated at Children’s Hospital Colorado, and the need for psychosocial support for parents whose children are facing cancer in our rural communities is paramount. If you, or someone you love, is in need of support that encompasses others who are going through this journey, register through Summit Psychology at 970-382-2680. The group size is limited and begins at Summit Psychology on Wednesday, March 8th thru Wednesday, May 3rd, from 11-12:30 pm. Our thanks to Tiffany Rose, Summit Psychology, and Jesse Hutt, MD, for helping to meet the need for this parental support! We are so excited to have this therapy available to our community.

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Casting for Recovery Retreats

TONI ABBEY | ONCOLOGY NURSE NAVIGATOR | MARCH 1 2017
As with Blueprints of Hope’s vision of taking individuals experiencing cancer into nature, the Colorado program for Casting for Recovery was started as a way to take women away from the clinical setting. It is here is where they can relax and share their cancer experience with others who have had the same experience, and also learn the therapeutic and healing sport of fly fishing. The retreats also offer counseling, education and are provided at no cost to participants. In 2017 there are three Colorado retreats being offered. All are at the North Fork Ranch in Shawnee: June 2-4, September 8-10, and one on October 6-8 which is specifically for those with Stage IV Metastatic breast cancer. What a wonderful gift to our communities. Coming from a Montana Girl, there’s nothing more meditative and healing than fly fishing on the river. These retreats fill-up quickly. If you are interested, please register soon at Casting for Recovery.

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Holding Courage Retreats at the Ghost Ranch

ghost-ranch

TONI ABBEY | ONCOLOGY NURSE NAVIGATOR | OCTOBER 12, 2016

The Holding Courage retreats are designed for women who have had or who are currently experiencing cancer. They are offered so women can “spend time in a positive process that melds inner reflection and creativity with spirituality through group discussion and sharing, guided mediation, massage, yoga, body and breath work, and art and music therapy.” Each day ends with a refreshing, star-filled sky of earned sleep within the majestic canyons and mesas which surround the Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. The upcoming five-day retreats are November 9th through 13th, and November 18th through 22nd, 2016.

What a wonderful gift to share with survivors in our region! Thanks Maureen and Deena for all your efforts to provide this exceptional experience for cancer survivors. For more information, please contact them at HoldingCourageRetreats@gmail.com.

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How Does Alcohol Cause Cancer?

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Infographic credit Cancer Research UK.

TONI ABBEY | September 15, 2016

(Reprinted with permission from the Dana-Farber Blog)

In a cabinet in London’s British Museum nestles a 5,300 year-old wedged-shaped tablet called a cuneiform. On its surface is scrawled one of the earliest forms of written language in the world.

And it’s a record of Mesopotamian workers’ beer rations.

Clearly, humanity’s relationship with alcohol stretches back thousands of years, but a long relationship doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy one.

We know that alcohol is damaging to our health in a number of ways – including an impact on cancer risk.

There’s concrete evidence that it causes cancer and that drinking less reduces your risk of developing the disease.

But we haven’t yet explored the science behind how alcohol affects and damages our cells, and how this can cause the cells in our bodies to develop into cancer. Read More

Breast Cancer Treatment Navigation Handbooks

TONI ABBEY | AUGUST 17, 2016Breast Cancer Treatment Handbook

Through a grant from the Colorado Cancer Fund, we have been afforded the opportunity to offer this comprehensive patient navigation guide to individuals who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer in Southwest Colorado. Judy Kneece’s Breast Cancer Treatment Handbook includes 242 pages of critical information, with explicit illustrations, teaching step-by-step all things related to breast cancer, including pathology reports and treatment options. The navigation guide also provides worksheets to help organize thoughts and questions to help prepare for care visits with the oncology and surgery teams. All information is presented in a format to assist patients in making informed decisions about their surgery and other breast cancer treatment options.

Our goal is to increase the quality of life for those who are experiencing a breast cancer diagnosis. We have distributed treatment handbooks to many of the surgeons who work with breast cancer patients in Southwest Colorado. If you live locally, please contact us if you or someone you love could use one — we are so happy to share!

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Your Survivorship Care Plan

Once your treatment is complete, the focus of your care swiftly changes from therapy to healing, recovery, and prevention. One way to guide your care moving forward is through a document called a Survivorship Care Plan – a blueprint for managing your future care. Anyone can get a survivorship care plan, at any time, throughout their cancer journey.

web-card-graphic-1This document has two parts – an end of treatment summary and a care plan. The end of treatment summary condenses the history of your cancer and its treatments. This information is then used by your oncology team to create your care plan, which includes the recommendations for managing your health and cancer monitoring moving forward.

An end of treatment summary will be created by the oncology team that treated you. Some survivors have found it difficult to locate their treatment summary information further down the road, so it is important for you to request this once treatment ends, or soon thereafter.

web-card-graphic-2If you are no longer being seen by an oncologist, you may consider contacting the office or the hospital where you were treated to get a summary of the treatment you received. You may also consider obtaining a copy of your medical records – particularly your pathology report, a copy of the imaging reports, and a disk with your actual scans on them to attach to your entire Survivorship Care Plan.

Once you have your Survivorship Care Plan in hand, share it with other members of your healthcare team. Sharing this information will ensure your future health monitoring and preventive care moving forward.

Cancer Survivorship Care Plans: What You Need to Know

This video was created by the California Dialogue on Cancer, California Public Health, and Triage Cancer to help you understand the goals and elements of survivorship care plans. It provides a variety of ways to obtain a survivorship care plan.

On Your Own: Starting Your Personal Survivorship Care Plan

If you are unable to obtain a care plan from your oncology team, it is still important document your care and obtain a plan for life after cancer. Your first step is to get a summary of your treatments from your oncology provider. Choose and print one of the templates below, and begin to fill-in as much information as you can. Then, make an appointment with your oncology provider to review and complete the missing pieces. It is important keep a copy of your completed Survivorship Care Plan for yourself and to share it with the other members of your healthcare team. This gives everyone a better understanding  of how you will be monitored after your treatment ends. This information is powerful – the more you understand your plan of care going forward, the better prepared you are to enlist your entire team to help you heal, recover, and stay healthy.

What’s Next? Life After Cancer TreatmentWhat's Next

The Minnesota Cancer Alliance has created this Cancer Survivor Care Plan booklet to help you keep track of the details of your cancer treatment, talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms, to understand the short and long-term side effects from your treatments, and manage your follow-up care. This booklet can help you develop a plan to take care of your physical, emotional, and practical needs and concerns related to post-treatment survivorship. You can order a free copy from the Minnesota Cancer Alliance here.

Journey Forward My Care Plan

My Care PlanAfter printing My Care Plan, fill in the general information and self-assessment to the best of your ability. Then, work with your oncology team to fill in the details of the Treatment Summary and Follow-up Care sections. Go to Journey Forward to learn more about the process and resources. Be sure to visit the Journey Forward Survivorship Library. The template is also available as a free mobile app (iOS and Android).

oncolinklife-logo@2xLIVESTRONG Care Plan powered by Penn Medicine’s OncoLink

This is an online tool you can use by completing questions about your cancer treatment experience, which are then used to create a survivorship care plan that you can print out and take to your oncology and primary care team to review. OncoLink has a large collection of the potential late and long-term side effects from treatment.

SGO Survivorship ToolkitThe Society of Gynecological Oncology (SGO) Survivorship Toolkit

The Society of Gynecologic Oncology has developed a number of resources for cancer survivors to help guide you on the next steps after treatment. They include care plans to download for survivors of cervical, endometrial, and vulvar cancers. General follow-up recommendations and post-treatment self-care plans for these cancers are also available.

These are meant to be printed and filled in to the best of your ability. They should be completed alongside your cancer care team, and used in addition to their follow-up and monitoring recommendations. Remember to share your Survivorship Care Plan with all of your healthcare providers.

Helping You Move Forward

10 Tips to Help You Navigate Life After Cancer and the New Normal

Great tips from an article in Cure Today, written by the cancer support community, IHadCancer. The goal of IHadCancer is to make connections that prevent the feeling of isolation experienced by those who have been affected by cancer. In addition to offering the ability to connect with others who may be experiencing the same journey, there is an array of resources and articles written by survivors on survivorship topics.

FFLACTFacing Forward: Life After Cancer Treatment

The NIH National Cancer Institute has compiled this booklet for people who have finished their cancer treatments. The booklet is free and can be downloaded to print or to a tablet device, such as a Kindle. The information provides answers to questions and concerns patients and survivors might have to help them understand what life is like after cancer treatments end.

 

Journey Forward Survivorship Library for Survivors

Journey Forward has a collection of topics, including information on late and long-term effects and other survivorship care links to credible resources for patients and families.

Dana Farber – Living Well Beyond Cancer: Experts Speak on Adult Survivorship Topics

Dana Farber was one of the first hospitals in the nation to begin acknowledging survivorship as a true phase of the cancer journey. Individuals who have survived cancer may face many challenges resulting from their cancer and treatments. Dana Farber has brought together experts from many fields to talk about the variety of issues cancer survivors face. There are 21 different topics, including nutrition, the importance of follow-up care, physical exercise, learning about symptoms to report to your doctor, fear of recurrence, and creating a survivorship care plan. They also have wonderful Information Sheets for Cancer Survivors, and a Cancer Survivorship Blog with timely topics to help cancer patients and survivors stay on top of what’s new in the cancer survivorship realm.

Dana Farber – Health Library on Survivorship Topics

Dana Farber has a variety of webinars and videos designed to help you gain an understanding of the issues related to a healthy survivorship. These videos are an exceptional way to learn about the challenges you, as a cancer survivor, could now be facing.

The Pink Ribbon Survivors Network

The Pink Ribbon Survivors Network connects breast cancer survivors to the most important up-to-date articles, support groups, and websites related to cancer survivorship. This website was started by a physician and his team, who are intense advocates for good survivorship care. They also provide a multitude of articles in their Curriculum for Recovery Library.

A List of Specialized Survivorship Clinics 

There are clinics nationwide that have specific training, knowledge, and management skills for the late and long-term effects of cancer and its treatments. This resource from OncoLink helps patients and healthcare providers locate these clinics.

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