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Mon, May 18 4:00pm · Clearing Clutter Benefits Your Health and Well-Being in Cancer Education Center


Article contributed by guest author, Char Tarashanti, Creative Renewal presenter.

Sheltering in place offers an opportunity to make positive changes in our home environments. One challenge that we all face is the accumulation of clutter. Various types of clutter collect in various areas of our homes. Clutter impedes the flow of life force energy. Energy that we need for good health.

Before you start, set a goal for the overall effect you wish to accomplish. Then set a mini goal for each decluttering session. Write them down and check them off as they are accomplished. Celebrate every success! If you miss the mark, recommit to the plan, and try again. Decluttering is a process that takes time and perseverance.

Try to handle each item only once. Have receptacles for each type of clutter you are dismantling including a large garbage bag for throw-away items, a bag or box for give-aways and a container for a few undecided items. Date it and review in 6 months. Choose a specific place for the things that you keep. Infrequently used items should be stored out-of-sight. Keep in view only those essentials that are used on a daily, or almost daily, basis. Taking time now to organize your belongings will pay off later. What is the pay off? More time and energy for other things you need or want to do.

Below are some additional suggestions to help eliminate clutter.

  • Do not have mirrors in cluttered areas. The reflection doubles the appearance and effect of clutter. You may temporarily cover mirrors until that area has been decluttered.
  • Open windows or place a fan in the area where you are working. It will keep you more comfortable as you work. The flow of fresh air will sweep away stagnant energy.
  • Play energizing music while you declutter, any genre that appeals to you. It will lift your spirits and provide motivation to stick with the task.
  • Focus on one area at a time. It’s overwhelming to take on a large space or multiple areas all at once. Keep it manageable and fun, one drawer, one shelf at a time.
  • Set a time limit to prevent burn-out. Ten to twenty minutes a day makes a significant difference over a week’s time. If you choose to work in longer segments of time, be sure to take breaks. Stretch, drink water, breathe deeply, and enjoy the progress you’ve made.
  • Ask for help from family or friends. “Many hands make light work” applies, especially on the bigger tasks. Plus, it gets buy-in from family members to minimize future clutter. Make it a game and give accolades (or prizes) to helpers.

Your home is your sanctuary. Make it as comfortable, inviting, and efficient as possible. It will make your life easier and will conserve your energy for activities that you enjoy. A good rule of thumb: keep nothing that is not either beautiful or useful to you.

What cluttered area is calling for attention in your home to make it a more usable and enjoyable space for you and your family?



Tue, May 12 11:58am · Cancer Education Classes Online in Cancer Education Center




We are excited to share many of the classes we offer in the Stephen and Barbara Slaggie Cancer Education Center in Rochester, MN are now available here!  COVID-19 has the majority of us sheltering in to minimize our contact and exposure to others.  We are looking for ways to stay connected, occupied and informed from the comfort and safety of our own dwellings.  If you are looking for education, tips and resources on a variety of topics, please explore the content under our “MORE” tab.






These classes include a video featuring our educators as well as links to patient education materials typically distributed in class.

Tell us which class(es) you found helpful!

Mon, Mar 30 12:26pm · Another Reason to Wear a Mask during COVID-19 in Cancer Education Center


We are all thinking about masks these days like we never have before.  We see people out in public wearing them.  We hear every news outlet talking about how very critical they are in the medical setting.  All those who work in supply chain are feeling the demand.  Some businesses are getting very creative in changing what they manufacture to help meet the need.  We are hearing of individuals sewing masks in their homes and people are saying it is reminiscent of the Rosie the Riveter efforts seen during World War II.  There is lots of debate about what qualifies as a truly protective mask.

I heard a doctor from New York, where they are truly in an epicenter of COVID-19 pandemic, speaking of ways we can protect ourselves from infection and gave a new way of thinking about wearing a face mask.  He spoke about the transmission of the virus and what steps we can take for protection.  Number ONE on the list is WASH YOUR HANDS!  Clean hands are key in stopping transmission.  Lucky for us soap is a perfect weapon against COVID-19 as it is not very sturdy once soap and water come in contact with the virus.  As far as wearing a mask – he said that one of the really important purposes of the mask is to prevent you from touching your face or rather it makes you more aware when you do touch your face.  Very specifically our eyes, nose and mouth.  We touch our faces so much more than we realize.  Whether it is an itch, a gesture, or how we may rest our chin on our hand when listening to someone.  Watch a person in your household and see how many times they touch their face.  Of course it is easier to observe and evaluate someone else’s behavior as compared to examining our own behavior!  If you are going to the store, or some other necessary outing, it may be beneficial to wear a mask, even if it is a simple bandana to thwart your habit of touching your face.  A protective mask would be the best barrier, but if you are unable to find one, wearing an alternative will help you be more conscious of your hands.  View it as a way to cultivate a newer, healthier, protective habit for yourself.

What extra measures are you taking to protect you and your family?

Listen to this interesing podcast by Dr. Poland, an infectious disease expert at Mayo Clinic, speaking about COVID-19.

For up to date recommendations, please visit the CDC.

Talk with others who are discussing protective and coping strategies in the COVID-19 support group.


Tue, Mar 24 12:00pm · COVID-19: What Patients with Cancer Should Know in Cancer Education Center

shutterstock_618721550_Fotor-16x9Older adults and those with serious chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease are at higher risk of developing serious complications if infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

But what about patients with cancer?

Cancer patients may be at a higher risk of infection and more severe symptoms, though temporarily, due to weakened immune system from treatment.  “However, we have very limited information at the present time,” says Dr. Rafael Fonseca, a hematologist and interim executive director of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center.

Dr. Fonseca says he and his team are receiving many questions from patients with cancer who are concerned and want to understand better what a potential COVID-19 infection might mean.  “From what we know, infection with COVID-19 seems to be more difficult, more aggressive and with worse outcomes in people who are, in general, unwell and are of advancing age. And what we’re seeing is this is predominantly in older males that we have seen the effect.”

Watch: Dr. Rafael Fonseca discusses COVID-19 and patients with cancer


“We don’t fully understand the implications of having cancer and being infected with SARS-CoV-2, but what we are telling patients, as we’re getting these questions, that until we know more, it is prudent for them to be extra cautious and, hopefully through those behaviors, prevent them becoming infected.  So be extra careful with regards to the sanitation of your hands, the good practice of social distancing that we have all seen in the news, and certainly try to avoid exposure to individuals who may be potentially ill,” says Dr. Fonseca.

Not all cancers act the same.

“Cancer is a very broad word and could encompass a relatively minor cancer with perhaps no implications or no difference from someone who is otherwise healthy with regards to COVID-19 to a more extreme situation where a patient with cancer might be facing a situation of a more advanced disease to a treatment that might be more immunosupressive, that is, that would bring the immune system down more than average and then, particularly in those groups of patients, we might think of a different way to approach their care.”

“Furthermore, some treatments may affect different how a person may be able to fight off an infection or not,” says Dr. Fonseca.  “Some of the treatments that bring down a certain type of white cells create what we call myelosuppression, that is, the neutrophils are down.  That is usually thought of to be more important for bacterial infections. Some other cancer treatments may affect more the way our immune system responds, and there’s a number of cells there like the lymphocytes.  So maybe that’s more important for viruses.  But this is all speculative because we really don’t have information at this point.”

Dr. Fonseca encourages patients with cancer to have ongoing conversations with their oncologists for information on their specific cancer and their treatment.

To reduce infection, consider these tips:

  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Practice social distancing
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth if your hands aren’t clean.
  • Determine who can care for you if you become ill.

Also, consider these recommendations for supplies:

  • Contact your health care provider to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications in case you need to stay home for a prolonged periods of time.
  • If you cannot get extra medications, consider using mail-order for medications.
  • Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies, such as tissues, to treat fever and other symptoms.  Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
  • Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.

Check the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website for additional updates on COVID-19.  For all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network.

Stay connected with others virtually and talk with fellow cancer patients in the Cancer Support Group and/or the COVID-19 Support Group.


Mon, Mar 2 10:42am · 4 Ways Caregivers Can Care for Themselves in Cancer Education Center


Point well taken. I did not mean to make anyone feel worse by reading this. The saying of "walk a mile in my shoes" comes to mind. The spirit of the article is to say that caregivers have needs too and trying to find some ways of getting those needs met while they are giving so much of themselves to their loved one. Caregivers play an important and taxing role in a patient's life. I just want them to receive some care as well!

You bring a more compassionate and realistic viewpoint that I am sure other caregivers can relate to.


Mon, Mar 2 8:22am · 4 Ways Caregivers Can Care for Themselves in Cancer Education Center

caregiver_word shutterstock_1110640928When a loved one has a cancer diagnosis, you may find yourself being thrust into the caregiver role.  This may be different than other times you have been a caregiver.  If you become a parent, are close to someone having a surgery, an aging parent…you may have a little lead time and anticipation of assuming more responsibility.  Cancer can bring this role on very suddenly leaving little time to anticipate new roles.

What’s the secret to avoiding burnout?

Remembering that taking care of yourself is key to caring for your loved one.

Taking care of yourself

It’s easy to become frustrated, run-down and burned out as a caregiver. Don’t let yourself get there. Instead, find time to:

  • Train for caregiving. To give the best care, you need to be in good shape. Think of it like training for a marathon. You need to eat well, get enough sleep, exercise and do things you enjoy.
  • Take breaks. Research shows that caregivers who take regular breaks from their responsibilities cope better with stress and keep their loved ones at home longer. They also reduce their risk of depression and cardiovascular disease.Respite care can come in the form of a friend coming over to play cards with your loved one once a week. Or it may mean hiring a professional to provide assistance with bathing, grooming, medications or other needs.
  • Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a meditative-type tool you can use to relieve stress. It trains your brain to be present in the moment. Studies show that practicing mindfulness can help reduce caregiver stress and depression.
  • Create your own space. Everyone needs personal space. Find a room or a corner that you can make your own, a place of refuge where you can go when you feel overwhelmed.This could be a comfortable chair facing a window, a cozy bedroom or even the backyard. A few minutes of recharging your emotional batteries can make a big difference in how you feel when you return to your responsibilities.

When to get help

Caregivers face higher risks of depression, fatigue and physical illness. Reach out to your doctor, a therapist or a counselor for help when you need it. Getting help is not only acceptable, it’s the best choice for you and your loved one.

Watch for these warning signs:

  • Feeling constantly overwhelmed or as if you’re running on empty
  • Feeling trapped or that you’ve lost all connection with friends and the outside world
  • Easily losing patience or getting angry
  • Feelings of despair, anguish or extreme sadness
  • Feeling that life doesn’t matter
  • Frequent crying
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Experiencing appetite changes or severe tiredness
  • Inability to sleep
  • Excessive use of alcohol or using drugs to cope

Here to help

There are many good resources to help you along the path of caregiving.  American Cancer Society has some helpful resources.  Here is a video series: Caregiver videos  and more Caregiver resources.

Connect with other caregivers who “get it” and talk about the realities of caregiving in the caregiving groups on Mayo Clinic Connect:


Thu, Feb 27 3:51pm · Strollin' Colon Event in Cancer Education Center


Mark your calendar for this timely event! Check out the inflatable, educational colon display and also learn from the experts on numerous relevant topics. Presentations will include the latest information on colon cancer prevention and screening,  colon cancer treatment and research, a colonoscopy video, hot topics on nutrition and cancer and more.

Please join us at Rochester Public Library, Auditorium located at 101 2nd St. SE, Rochester Minnesota on Monday, March 2nd, 4:30 – 7:30 pm.   The complete schedule is listed above.