Everyone we've ever talked to who has had to deal with a cancer diagnosis says it changes you forever. That's why the Avera Cancer Institute started "A Time to Heal". It's a 12-week program designed to help patients regain physical, emotional and spiritual health after undergoing cancer treatment.
Julie Miller found out in March 2008 she had Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. As a young mother of 4, this was devastating news.
Julie says, "Truthfully, I was scared, but the first thing that went through my mind is my daughter is 5 and she will not remember me if I die. Truly that was the hardest part especially since 2 of my kids are young."
More than 2 years later, 6 months of chemo therapy and 10 weeks of radiation Julie can say she is cancer free. She can also say her journey to a new sense of normalcy was helped by "A Time to Heal". A 12-week program now offered at the Avera Cancer Institute for folks who have either completed or are nearing the end of their cancer treatment. Melanie Hericks is a social worker at Avera Hematology and Transplant and a facilitator of the Time to Heal program. Julie Miller says when you are in the middle of fighting cancer you are in battle mode. When it's done you find yourself in unfamiliar territory.
Julie says, "It's almost numbing. You don't know what to do because for so long you spent everyday fighting an illness. For me it gave me that next step for what you do after treatment and the emotions you go through. It helps you fight those personal dragons you are chasing and connect with people who truly, truly understand what you've just been through and the employees at the Avera Cancer Institute just get it. It's a real bridge after treatment."
Social Worker and Program Facilitator Melanie Hericks says, "We would blow up beach balls and toss them around. It is light hearted fun, but exercising at the same time. I think that it was something the group really enjoyed because sometimes you forget to laugh. This is a good opportunity for them to have a good laugh and be in the moment."
Julie was part of the first class to go through "A Time to Heal" here in Sioux Falls and it is a time in her life that she will now treasure for the rest of her life.
The next session of "A Time to Heal" starts in February at the Avera Cancer Institute at no cost to you thanks to a Lance Armstrong Grant. The same group meets once a week over the 3 month period. They are currently taking registrations. If you have questions call 605.322.3000.