Cancer Support & Survivorship

If you have a cancer diagnosis, you’re a survivor regardless of where you are in your journey. Find the resources you need throughout your cancer journey at Essentia Health.

Educational Resources & Supplies

Find supplies, educational materials, and other forms of support at cancer centers in Duluth, Minnesota and Fargo, North Dakota.

For interactive courses on nutrition, physical activity, and more, visit our e-campus.

Caring Ways Cancer Resource Center

Healthy Living: Caring Ways Cancer Resource Center - Essentia Health Video Transcript

Michelle Lee, along with Colleen Baggs, sits at an interview table. She speaks to the camera.

MICHELLE LEE: The Caring Ways Cancer Resource Center at Essentia Health's 1st Street Building in Duluth is open to all cancer survivors in the community, no matter where you receive your care. We're joined now by the program manager, Colleen Baggs to learn more about what's available there. And thank you very much for joining us today.

Michelle turns to Colleen.

First off, who can benefit from this center?

Text, Colleen Baggs, Resource Center Manager.

COLLEEN BAGGS: Well, Michelle, the center is really open to everyone, just like you said. And everyone can benefit from it. The person that is diagnosed with cancer, their family members, their friends, caregivers. It really has a little bit for everybody. MICHELLE LEE: We often think about support for the cancer patient, but you're talking about family and caregivers. How important is that? COLLEEN BAGGS: The caregiver role is huge, and we know from experience that cancer doesn't just affect the person that is diagnosed. It reaches all the people that are surrounding them. So a lot of our resources are about caregiver fatigue and things that they need to do to keep themselves healthy so that they can manage the care. MICHELLE LEE: Is it maybe in some cases just a matter of sitting down and listening? COLLEEN BAGGS: Oh some days, that's what my job is. It's just having a-- putting resources in their hands or having a listening ear, where I can just talk with people. MICHELLE LEE: When you talk about resources, what types of things are available? COLLEEN BAGGS: Well, if you walk by or you look at the resource center, it looks very much like a library but it's so much more than that.

Various still images of patients at the Resource Center are viewed. A man is given a book from a row of shelves by a smiling provider, and a woman uses a computer,

We have classes and programs that come out of our resource center. We also have reliable information from the National Cancer Institute that are free for people to take on disease specific. We have a wig room, a scarf room where people can take things for free.

A provider helps a patient view wigs on model heads.

A lot of our resources are just meant for people to be able to grab quickly and go. They don't want to come in and spend a lot of time in there. MICHELLE LEE: When you talk about resources about the specific diseases, I would imagine when a diagnosis hits, a lot of people just go to the internet. And then we start reading these things and it's pretty scary, but you can kind of set the record straight? COLLEEN BAGGS: Yeah. There is reliable information out there. And one of the things in our resource center is a list of reliable websites that people can go-- that we can direct them to. We also have a program called Oncology Interactive which has the top 25 diagnosis. It talks about the disease, it talks about the organ, and it talks about treatment options that are there. And they can print those things off and take them with them. MICHELLE LEE: Now, there are classes or programs that patients can take advantage of. Tell us about those. COLLEEN BAGGS: Yeah, we have a lot of classes and programs and most of them are free. We have weekly classes on meditation, just as you heard Dr. Cross talking about balancing in your life.

A row of patients hold their hands in a praying position, near their noses, while closing their eyes.

Managing stress. We have coping classes, we have grieving non-death loss and then programs once a month that come up. We have a nutritionist-- a dietician that is coming in May. Just going to be there so people can drop in and ask her questions. MICHELLE LEE: And we just heard about how important a diet is in battling and becoming a survivor in the cancer areas. Can you tell us more about how this program started? COLLEEN BAGGS: Yeah. Well, really, it was the vision of the Miller-Dwan Foundation. They have a rich history in looking at what are the needs of our community and filling those gaps. And so in 2003, they partnered with Essentia Health. They fundraised over $400,000 to build and staff that unit. MICHELLE LEE: Wonderful. Now, you were involved in the recent Survivors Conference, so what kind of feedback have you heard from those who attended? COLLEEN BAGGS: We heard great feedback. But one of the common themes that I heard was just how wonderful it was to meet other survivors and talk with people where their reality was living with their cancer every day. MICHELLE LEE: And why was that-- why is it so important-- why is it an important step to recognize the unique issues that a survivor would face? COLLEEN BAGGS: Well, cancer survivorship is a very distinct part of cancer care. And as we learn more about survivorship, really looking at beyond that medical expertise and looking at what the patient's experiences is. So that's why it's so important. MICHELLE LEE: And what words of encouragement would you have for survivors who might not be aware of all the support that is out there? COLLEEN BAGGS: I would just say, take an active role in your health care.

Text, Cancer Resources. Learn more by calling the Caring Way Cancer Resource Center at 218-786-3581.

Talk to people that have walked in your shoes. Someone, I think Paul had mentioned that he talked with other people that had prostate cancer. We have a mentorship program there. We can match you up with someone in the community that will call you. They've been through that. They've walked in your shoes, and they can tell you what it's like on the other side. MICHELLE LEE: And that would be very reassuring, I would think, especially when the diagnosis comes and you don't really know where to begin. COLLEEN BAGGS: Yeah. MICHELLE LEE: So what do you hope patients get out of your cancer resource center? COLLEEN BAGGS: I would hope that patients walk away with-- and not, again, not only just patients but their families members and friends, that they walk away with a sense of empowerment about their diagnosis and hope. MICHELLE LEE: Anything else you'd like to add? COLLEEN BAGGS: Well, there's just the title of a book from Dr. Robert Buckman, called Cancer is a Word, Not a Sentence. MICHELLE LEE: Very, very good. All right. Thank you very much, Colleen, we appreciate having you here this evening.

Michelle turns to the camera.

And thank you for joining us for another edition of Healthy Living brought to you by Essentia Health. If you miss an episode, it's easy to catch them online at Essentia's new YouTube channel, and that's youtube. com/essentia health. We'll be back the last Monday in May to take a look at the confusing world of preventive screenings. What tests you need and when? What are the potential benefits? We'll help you sort it all out so you can stay on top of your health concerns.

Text, Coming up in May. "Screenings". Monday, May 30th, 6:30 P. M. , K. B. J. R. 6, and Range 11. Email your questions to healthy living at S. M. D. C. dot org.

Have a great night and take care. SPEAKER: Healthy Living is brought to you by the experts at Essentia Health.

Text, Your health questions. Answered. Healthy Living, Brought to you by Essentia Health.

Trust the staff and volunteers at Caring Ways Cancer Resource Center in Duluth to guide you to:

  • Facing Forward: The New You, a monthly skin care and makeup class
  • Books, brochures, DVDs, CDs, and online resources
  • Local support groups and their contacts
  • A private wig room

Contact Caring Ways by calling 218-786-3581.

Accessories of Strength Boutique

Ask the volunteers at Accessories of Strength Boutique in Essentia Health Cancer Center (Fargo) to help you find:

  • Bras and forms that fit you after a mastectomy
  • Wigs and head coverings provided by the American Cancer Society

Contact Accessories of Strength by calling 701-364-8910.

Spiritual & Emotional Support

Learn about ways to cope and maintain hope with behavioral and mental health services. Turn to Essentia’s spiritual care for an uplifting outlet to share your emotional burdens.

Cancer Support Groups & Events

Find support in the form of companionship, ideas, information, and inspiration at events and groups throughout Essentia.

Gather regularly with other survivors and their families by attending cancer support groups. Or join Essentia events that recognize the challenges, joys, and needs of survivorship.

Peer Support

Enjoy fellowship and education by connecting with other cancer survivors through programs like:

  • Cancer Journey Conference at Essentia Health Cancer Center (Fargo) – Bond with fellow survivors and their loved ones, and learn about pain management, exercise, and other topics
  • Survivorship gatherings and celebrations – Gather with other survivors and their families in your area to celebrate progress and share experiences

We Can Weekend

Learn how to live well with cancer at We Can Weekend, an annual retreat for people with cancer and their families. Offered at a discounted rate thanks to donations and fundraising.

It is held every fall at the YMCA Camp Miller in Sturgeon Lake, Minnesota. Accommodations are comfortable and include meals, snacks, and lodging, as well as indoor and outdoor recreational activities. Childcare provided for kids under 5.

Join together with others affected by cancer to:

  • Learn stress-reduction techniques
  • Express your feelings
  • Talk about how cancer affects you and your family
  • Discover healthy physical activities
  • Approach your condition with humor and hope

How Much Does it Cost?

We ask for a $45 registration deposit to hold your spot - the rest is free of charge. We're able to offer this because of generous donations and a lot of fundraising work.

We Can Weekend is sponsored by:

  • Miller-Dwan Foundation
  • Essentia Health's SMDC Foundation
  • Essentia Health Cancer Center
  • Essentia Health's SMDC Foundation Breast Health Fund
  • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Register for We Can Weekend

Pre-registration is required due to limited space. For information or to register, please call 218-786-3581.

Manage Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Explore how integrative medicine and supportive and palliative care can help you cope with symptoms and side effects. Improve your quality of life by taking advantage of therapies such as:

  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Healing movement, such as qi gong or yoga
  • Healing Touch
  • Massage
  • Meditation

During or after your treatment, specialists in cancer rehabilitation can help improve your recovery. You may pursue rehabilitation services even if your cancer diagnosis and treatment happened years ago.

Financial Help

Seek financial assistance to manage the costs of your care. Services vary throughout Essentia.

Assistance for Nonmedical Expenses

If you’re receiving care at Essentia Health St. Joseph’s Cancer Center in Brainerd, Minnesota, ask about programs that help cover daily living expenses during cancer treatment:

  • Brainerd Lakes Pay It Forward for Cancer Fund – Download an application [PDF]
  • Pink Ribbon Cupboard Program (breast cancer patients only) – Call 218-330-6648

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