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Family Cancer retreat provides support for New Mexico patients

Ruidoso News - 7/11/2018

July 11--The Cancer Services of New Mexico's (CSNM) 18th annual Fall Retreat will be held at the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North Hotel, 5151 San Francisco Road NE on Sept. 7 -- 9 starting at 3:30 p.m. Under the direction and coordination of Mike Capeless, the retreat program manager for 14 years, the event is specifically organized for recently diagnoses cancer patients and their families providing information about treatments, clinics, cancer research and any concerns they may have.

The program was founded by Blare Larson who used to work as the retreat's program manager, but now focuses on the financial aspects and needs of the retreat. CSNM is a statewide non-profit organization addressing the gaps that may exist in cancer related services that works with other providers across New Mexico state.

Many people travel from all over the state to attend the retreat and it has been estimated by Mike Capeless that over 350 people will attend this years' fall retreat. There will be 35 speakers representing cancer services that are provided in the state along with physicians to answer questions and address concerns patients or family members may have.

Sessions on treatment options, palliative (specialized medical care for individual with serious illnesses) care, mediation, nutrition, family communications, navigating through the health care system, and using the internet effectively to find resources will be held each day.

The organization is supported by over 60 Oncology groups, cancer service agencies and other organizations that help as volunteers are the Family Cancer Retreat. "Patients and their families are able to interact with each other here. It is different than being at a doctors or chemo appointments. The retreat is a support group that is an incentive to help them seek support. It is a therapeutic and empowering experience for them," Mike Capeless said.

Cancer Services New Mexico (CSNM) Support Program conducts frequent surveys to determine the needs of patients, family members and/or care givers. According to CSNM, over 75,000 residents of New Mexico are living with cancer and over 9,000 new case are diagnosed each year. This program is a way to find the necessary help and support a care giver can provide to a patient. The CSNM is a free support program and was created to provide support to those who are a caregiver of a cancer patient.

The Medical Advisory Board of New Mexico includes many leading oncologists and provides information to patients and survivors about other agencies that offer support for them and their families at the retreat. They are a volunteer based organization with approximately 300 men and women that have had firsthand experiences coping with cancer and are committed to making a difference. "It is an interesting Phenomena giving cancer patients an increased sense of hope," Capeless said.

Patients and caregivers are quite frequently overwhelmed with legal and insurance issue that may arise during treatment and other processes. CSNM offers free legal advice, insurance and paperwork assistance (LIPA) providing comprehensive solutions and these services are free of charge and is staffed with volunteers.

Clinics are available offering patients advise on insurance, medical coverage, disability, legal, financial and filling out paperwork. Also, they have a referral program that provides patients and families with information regarding any LIPA related concerns.

CSNM's support system offers an additional program, the Cancer Services of New Mexico's Family Cancer Resource Bag Program. The program was designed to provide residents in the state of New Mexico with the information and tools the can use to help get through the complicated process of dealing with cancer.

The kit contains information on how to discuss cancer with children, books with information on several topics dealing with the processes, family reading materials, and information that is geared to children between the ages of four and 12 years old.

The program welcomes past attendees to return because of their firsthand experiences and knowledge they gathered at a past retreat. It is a way that the program can extended this information on a more personal level. "Many of our previous participants come back as volunteers and help out in the years to come," Capeless said.

Several companies and organizations that have generously donated financial support to CSNM that including Pfizer. Cancer Care, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and NCI's Cancer Information Services donate the materials that are provided in the resource bags. The American Cancer Society, Cancer Family Care and the Gathering Place provide and give permission for CSNM to reprint, use, and share information and materials with the public. Many Oncology clinics and cancer service providers throughout the state distribute the resource bags through several volunteer hours.

Meals, all sessions, and a hotel room will be provided for the participants free of charge. Anyone interested in attending the retreat is encouraged to apply now because there are many steps involved in the process. An application must be filled out, registration forms need to be filled out regarding family information (dietary needs, how many family members, etc.), doctors must approve and sign a form stating that the patient can attend, and more.

To receive an application package or for more information go online at cancerservicesnm.org or call the retreat program manager Mike Capeless at 505-239-4293.

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(c)2018 the Ruidoso News (Ruidoso, N.M.)

Visit the Ruidoso News (Ruidoso, N.M.) at www.ruidosonews.com

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