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March is National Colorectal Month: MVH's Regional Cancer Center Provides Diagnosis, Treatment and Support

MVH: A Neighbor You Can Trust
In addition to the diagnostic radiology and medical therapies, MVH offers cancer support groups that meet in relaxed settings at the hospital. People who are undergoing therapy as well as survivors and their loved ones are welcome to attend the meetings.

"Each of the groups provides a forum for people who are facing similar issues related to their cancer diagnoses to talk about their experiences, concerns and milestones," said Jamie Fedorchak, nurse manager on MVH's 7-East unit that provides care to oncology patients. "While some people turn to family and friends for support, others may find it helpful turning to people who share their diagnoses. A support group can help some people cope better and feel less isolated. While they are not intended to replace standard medical care, support groups can be valuable resources to help people cope."

Listed below are Monongahela Valley Hospital's Cancer Support Groups:

Breast Cancer Support Group
This support group is free and open to all breast cancer patients and their families. This support group meets the first Monday of each month at 4 p.m. Location may vary. For more information, call 724-258-1704.

Cancer Support Group
This support group is free and open to all cancer patients and their families. The group meets the third Monday of each month at 2 p.m. Location may vary. For additional information, call 724-258-1704.

Prostate Cancer Support Group
All prostate cancer patients, families and care givers are invited to attend this free support group. This group meets quarterly (every three months), the second Wednesday of the month, at 6 p.m. Location may vary. For more information, call 724-292-9404.

Free Cancer Screenings at MVH
Throughout the year, MHV sponsors free cancer screenings and educational programs. Mark your calendar for these upcoming events.

Colorectal Cancer Education Program - Wednesday, April 30, at 1 p.m. in the Anthony M. Lombardi Education Conference Center.

Prostate Cancer Screening - Wednesday, Sept. 17, at 5:30 p.m. in the Anthony M. Lombardi Education Conference Center.

Breast Cancer Screening and Luncheon - Wednesday, Oct. 29, 1 p.m. in the Anthony M. Lombardi Education Conference Center.
(March 19, 2014 - Carroll Township, Pa.)

It was November and Barbara Grove was feeling tired. With the holidays quickly approaching, the retired elementary school teacher went to her primary care physician for a physical. The doctor sent her to Monongahela Valley Hospital (MVH) for blood tests which led to transfusions as well as a colonoscopy and CT scan that revealed a tumor in her colon. Two days later, she had surgery to remove the mass.

"As I was being prepped for surgery, I saw one of the radiologists looking at the tumor on my scans with the surgeons," recounted Mrs. Grove. "He said, 'oh, my gosh, that thing is ugly.'"

Once the "ugly mass" was removed, the Carroll Township resident spent 10 days in the hospital, followed by six months of chemotherapy.

"The oncologist said that I would have a 25 percent chance of surviving five years without chemotherapy and a 75 percent chance with it so I opted for the chemotherapy."

It's been more than four years since that day in November 2009 when Mrs. Grove received her diagnosis and she tells everyone that she is alive today thanks to the expert and compassionate care that she received from the physicians, nurses and support staff at Monongahela Valley Hospital's Charles L. and Rose Sweeney Melenyzer Pavilion and Regional Cancer Center.

"I went to the hospital for my chemotherapy from December through June and I was never treated like just another patient," said Mrs. Grove. "They treated me and all of the other people with cancer and our families with care and genuine concern. The staff was very kind to my husband who accompanied me to the treatments. When I had no appetite, they brought me trays from the cafeteria to encourage me to eat. When my blood count dipped low and I needed shots, some of the staff members, including doctors, rearranged their schedules so that they could meet me at the Cancer Center on a holiday weekend to administer the shots."

She continued, "Both my husband, Robert, and I are very appreciative that we have such a quality cancer center literally in our backyard. It was very convenient to stay in our community and not have to travel to Pittsburgh regularly for the treatments."

Once she completed her chemotherapy treatments, Mrs. Grove returned to MVH's regional cancer center every six weeks so that doctors could monitor her recovery. She now returns to the cancer center every six months for CT scans and blood work. She also has a PET scan every year.

"I trust the staff at Monongahela Valley Hospital with my life," said Mrs. Grove. "Not only did they provide great, individualized care, they brightened what could have been a very dark time for me."

MVH's Cancer Program which includes medical oncology, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, diagnostic radiology and surgical services, is accredited by the American College of Surgeon’s Commission on Cancer.

Colorectal Cancer: Know Your Risks
Colorectal cancer is cancer that starts in the colon or the rectum. These cancers can also be referred to separately as colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where they start. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the United States. In 2014, the ACS estimates that there will be more than 96,800 cases of colon cancer and approximately 40,000 new cases of rectal cancer. Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20 or 5 percent. This risk is slightly lower in women than in men.

Colorectal cancer may cause one or more of the symptoms below. If you have any of the following you should see your doctor:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
  • Rectal bleeding, dark stools, or blood in the stool (often, though, the stool will look normal)
  • Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

Most of these symptoms are more often caused by conditions other than colorectal cancer, such as infection, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease. Still, if you have any of these problems, it's important to see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.

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