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What does it mean to ‘survive’ cancer?

After the diagnosis, after all the research and choices are made for treatment, after enduring months of treatment, cancer patients are considered “survivors.”

You are not in remission for five years. But those years are days, weeks, months of hope, fear, new information, worry, research, listening to other survivors.

They are not easy times.

Toni Abbey, an oncology nurse, has observed and treated thousands of patients. She has created a nonprofit program that helps survivors by formally collecting and presenting to the survivor all the information about his or her diagnostic tests, the “final” diagnosis, physicians, treatments, follow-up, the next steps, regular testing, access to relevant research. The program provides treatment summaries and survivorship care plans. It is empowering, helps relieve fears and anxieties, and allows survivors to move on in their lives.

On Monday, July 16, Abbey will speak in Pagosa at the Ruby Sisson Library. Her presentation, hosted by the Pagosa Cancer Support Group, will begin at 4:30 p.m. The talk and handouts will center on what summaries and plans include, how to obtain these things and what records to keep. It provides a tool for health monitoring and other tips for healthy survivorship.

The Pagosa Cancer Support Group meets monthly on the last Monday of each month. Patients, survivors, family members and caregivers are welcome to attend.

For information, call Carol at 731-9459.

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