Mental Health America (MHA) of Putnam County will host its annual meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26 at Putnam County Museum with a program titled "Coping with Cancer."
Speakers for the program will be Linda Mann, oncology nurse with Putnam County Hospital; Lisa Grievens, community education coordinator for Vista Care hospice; and Anita Edenfield, a two-time cancer survivor.
Mann said the role of a cancer nurse is not only to work with the physical aspects of the fight, but to make sure the patient and his or her family understand exactly what is happening.
"Our nurses go with the doctors when they see the patients," Mann said. "We can see the patient's look of confusion. When the doctor leaves the room, we can sit down with the patient and go over it. Sometimes it takes more than one time."
"You can't process it all at once," Edenfield said.
For Edenfield, a big key has been a strong support system.
"It's been a roller coaster. What I'll be focusing on is how my family and friends and faith helped me through it. I can't imagine going through cancer without any kind of support system."
"It does happen, but it's much more difficult," Mann said.
For those whose battle with cancer is successful, just getting over the disease isn't the end of the line. Both Mann and Edenfield spoke of how "graduation day" is bittersweet for patients. They are certainly happy to be moving past the disease, but they struggle with leaving behind the support system they have had at whatever treatment facility they've chosen.
"It's hard for (patients) to walk away and know they're going to be alone," Mann said.
Edenfield said she remembers asking herself, "Now what am I going to do with my time?"
"For a while, it was about slowing down and now it's picking everything back up," Edenfield said. "There are things now that I realize aren't as important."
Like most experts, Mann and Edenfield agreed that, in spite of how frightening cancer can be, a positive attitude and sense of humor are key to the fight.
"You need to keep a positive sense of humor, but you need to also know when your patients don't want to laugh," Mann said.
The evening will also include MHA honoring its "Heroes in the Fight" and the annual presentations of the Person of the Year and Educator of the Year awards. Refresh-ments will be provided by Mc-Donald's.
For more information, contact MHA at 653-3310.