Online Program Helps Cancer Patients, Survivors Get Back to their Lives
Tom Cole, diagnosed with nasal cancer in 2003, says Pillars 4 Life helps him manage stress, among other things.
A group of cancer patients and survivors are on their way to a better quality of life. They are the first people to finish the Pillars 4 Life training program at the University of Virginia Cancer Center.
It's not a support group. In fact, members say it's exactly the opposite. Pillars 4 Life is a virtual course that gives cancer patients and survivors valuable skills and coping mechanisms to help them live fulfilling lives. The class focuses on a different "pillar" each week: hope, balance, inner strength, self-care, support, spirit or life review.
September of 2003 was a life-changing time for Tom Cole. He was diagnosed with nasal cancer.
"It inserts itself into your life occasionally, it's in the back of your mind, you still wonder the ‘why's and the ‘where for' and you're not always going to understand those," Cole said.
But you can understand how to manage your life with a cancer diagnosis, Cole says. That's where Pillars 4 Life comes into play.
"It's a 10-step program," said Pillars guide Annemarie Clemente. "It has many tools that are very successful in helping people feel like they're thriving again in their lives and kind of pushing cancer aside."
And it's pushing the cancer aside that helps patients, survivors and caregivers move forward with the rest of their lives.
"You forget sometimes of the things you can do to de-stress your life and to move forward with the positive things that are going on," Cole said.
The classroom isn't your typical one; it meets online, once a week for an hour and 15 minutes.
Cole says the class taught him how to journal. He identifies his stressor of the day and then plans how to manage it without it taking control.
Clemente says it's important to have a visual guide, as a way for people to track how often cancer is on their minds.
The course is offered through a Livestrong community partnership grant, making it free for students.
"It's extremely powerful and, like I said, easy to be a part of," Cole said.
For anyone interested in being a part of the course, the next session begins October 9 at 6 p.m.
For anyone intimidated by the technological aspect, Clemente says she is happy to sit down with people before the class and teach them how to use to the virtual classroom. To contact her, call 434-924-2717 or email email@example.com.
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