Local cancer survivors and their caregivers heard about treatments for the disease, the value of healthy living and even the value of laughter during a retreat hosted by the Canadian Cancer Society on September 14 at the Estevan Days Inn.
The 30 people who attended the session heard from three different speakers. Up first was Dr. Marika Geis of Regina, a naturopath who gave a presentation on medicine and integrative cancer care.
“It was a topic that seemed to have a high level of interest for all the people attending,” said Debra Polischuk, who is the director of support services with the Canadian Cancer Society.
Geis was supposed to speak for an hour, but she wound up talking for nearly two hours due to the volume of questions from the people in attendance.
“There were lots of questions about 'What sort of vitamins do we take? What sort of nutrients? What are free radicals?'” said Polischuk. “She gave us a lot of good information.”
The presentation by Geis went over so well that Polischuk suggested bringing her back for another half-day session in the future.
Geis said that it's never too late to start living in a healthy manner.
“By giving your body the basics that it needs in order to function well, it's a step closer to optimal function,” said Geis.
Those basics include healthy food, clean water, lots of fresh air, a strong social support network and a strong spiritual connection. They mitigate the processes that mitigate cancer.
And she's a big believer in the value of using laughter to alleviate stress.
“It can effectively mitigate a lot of those processes that contribute to cancer,” said Geis.
Geis has spoken regularly on a variety of topics – men's and women's health, pediatric health, diabetes, osteoporosis, stress, the immune system and more – but this was the first time she had spoken on cancer. She said that she was pleased to have such an engaged audience.
There were two other speakers. Estevan's Stacey Drebnicki spoke on the value of exercise and how it can help a patient cope with the side effects from cancer. And the event wrapped up with a speech from psychologist and cancer survivor Joanne Frederick, who spoke on the value of mindfulness.
“We're looking at body, mind and spirit,” said Polischuk.
The community retreats are a new initiative of the cancer society, Polischuk said. This is the first year that they have been provided. She said it's important for people who have been diagnosed with cancer, and their caregivers, to come together.1
“They get to meet other people who are going through the same experience, maybe find some support,” said Polischuk. “They don't have to drive two, three or four hours to hear a doctor or a presentation on cancer.”