Warding off the low blow

Below-the-belt cancers is topic of Thursday library talk

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Hitting below the belt is a no-no. So four physicians and a dietitian are scheduled to speak Thursday about ways to protect oneself against cancers that strike abdominal organs.

The speakers will address colorectal, bladder, ovarian and prostate cancer at the second Cancer Below the Belt forum at Durango Public Library, 1900 East Third Ave. The forum is programmed from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Sponsoring the forum are the Man to Man Prostate Cancer Support Group, the American Cancer Society and the Women’s Health Coalition of Southwest Colorado.

Speakers are Dr. Jim Burpee, a semiretired urologist and resource to the Man to Man group; Dr. Patrick Gerstenberger, a gastroenterologist; Dr. Cynthia Cathcart, a medical oncologist and hematologist; Dr. Steven Bush, a radiation oncologist; and Susan Young, a registered dietitian.

Bladder cancer strikes 57 per 100,000 men and 9 per 100,000 women; colorectal cancer strikes 53 men and 40 women per 100,000 people; prostate cancer sooner or later hits one man in six; and the incidence of ovarian cancer is 12.3 per 100,000.

The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends physical activity, weight control, a sensible diet and eschewing tobacco in any form.

Institute experts estimate that overall, about one-third of the 1.5 million cases of cancer that are diagnosed every year in the United States could be prevented by following its guidelines.

The speakers Thursday will focus on prevention of cancer.

When cancer strikes, three ad hoc organizations in Durango are available to provide information, advice from cancer survivors and morale support to people actively battling cancer and people who have been through the mill. They don’t dispense medical advice.

In addition to the Man to Man group, they are the Women’s Cancer Support Group facilitated by Joanna Logston and the American Cancer Society Cancer Support group facilitated by Carol McGuire, which brings together caregivers as well as cancer survivors. McGuire’s group is geared toward adults.

“I see Man to Man as a way for newly diagnosed men to talk to guys who have been down the road,” facilitator Larry Zauberis said. “It can lower the emotional impact and allow them to focus on the treatment they need.

“A newly diagnosed guy doesn’t know what to expect, none of which may sound all that great,” Zauberis said. “The support group shows him that there is life after cancer.”

McGuire’s group welcomes people with brand new diagnoses and people who have been attending monthly meetings for five years. She tries to schedule a speaker quarterly.

“People who have just received a diagnosis of cancer can see it’s not all a bad experience,” McGuire said. “They find that people who have been in their shoes are good listeners.

“It also takes some of the burden off family members,” McGuire said. “This is a big factor.”

Logston said her group is unaffiliated. Members meet quarterly with no fixed schedule at a restaurant to keep up with one another, she said.

“We’re all survivors who formed an ad hoc group that’s been around at least a couple of decades,” Logston said. “It’s important to be able to talk to people who have had the same experience.”

A bout with cancer leaves an indelible impression, she said.

“There was no group like ours at the time,” Logston said. “I joined because I wanted to talk about feelings not generally accepted – about emotional and personal issues.”

daler@durangoherald.com

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