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Cancer support and resources

Even though you may have great support from your family and friends, research shows that attending support groups as a cancer patient leads to a longer life and greater quality of life. It is liberating to be with other people who have experienced the same issues that you have.

Support groups can:
Help you feel better, more hopeful, and not so alone
Give you a chance to talk about your feelings and work through them
Help you deal with practical problems, such as problems at work or school
Help you cope with side effects of treatment
Some groups are specific to one type of cancer, while others are open to those with any type of cancer. Some are for patients only.
Support groups can also be helpful for children or family members. These groups focus on family concerns such as role changes, relationship changes, financial worries, and how to support the person with cancer. Some groups include both cancer survivors and family members. Our PVH Cancer Support Group is open to both survivors and family members.

But sometimes it is difficult to make it to meetings. Here in Maine, our long cold winters and dark days can make it hard to get out in the evening. Maybe you just don’t feel well enough to pull on those boots and start up the car. In that case, you may want to explore an alternative.

Perhaps you are the type who likes to read and ponder, taking a lot of time to let things sink in. In this case, the American Cancer Society has a great online resource called I Can Cope. This is a series of self-paced classes that can be taken any time, day or night, on such topics as nutrition, managing side effects of treatment, communicating feelings or relieving pain. You can find these classes on Just type “I Can Cope” into the search box and it will lead you to a link to the various topics.

Some people are nervous about attending a group for fear that their emotions may well up, causing them to be uncomfortable, or just feel that their need for privacy won’t allow them to open up in a group setting. For those folks, there is a wonderful, statewide program called the Maine Buddy Program, offered through the Cancer Community Center in South Portland.

This free program assigns you a Buddy from Maine who has experienced a type of cancer similar to yours. These trained, one-on-one peer support people commit to helping you for at least six months, although you can do less if you don’t feel the need for continuing support. There are also caregiver Buddies for you if you are not the patient but are in the caregiver role. You can choose to meet in person, via telephone, or through email, whichever suits your needs best. To get a buddy, either call 1-877-774-2200 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The Maine Buddy Program is also looking for peer support people willing to volunteer their time. You are not required to provide transportation or run errands, in fact, it is not allowed. You are there to be a support person, a sounding board, and a listener. You can empathize and offer your own experiences. If you are an “experienced” patient or caregiver who wants to give back, please call the above number. If we get enough people, we will be able to hold a training here in Lincoln. Brochures about the Maine Buddy Program are located in our Cancer Support Group bookcase in the PVH Chapel.

PVH Cancer Support Group meetings are the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month from 6-7:15 pm in Conference Room B at Penobscot Valley Hospital, 7 Transalpine Road, Lincoln. Meetings in February are on the 9th and the 23rd. 

PVH staff purchase gifts for nursing home residents

Penobscot Valley Hospital medical technologist Nicole Piché prepares to deliver gifts purchased by staff, family and friends of PVH to area nursing home residents this week. Earlier this month, Nicole contacted employees at Care Ridge Estates, Colonial Acres, Cummings Health Care, and Lakeview Terrace who compiled nearly 40 “wish lists” for their residents.

“My mom used to volunteer at nursing homes and played piano for the residents. Now this is my way of carrying on her spirit and giving back to a deserving group of people who might not otherwise receive gifts,” states Piché. “Many of the area residents are without family and friends, and these may be the only gifts they receive over the holidays. It’ll brighten my day on Christmas morning to think of the joy on these residents’ faces as they open their gifts.”

Other PVH laboratory staff like Helen McReavy have helped Piché organize the lists and gifts. The lab department has also donated two additional boxes of everyday necessities that the residents will enjoy.

Staff of Penobscot Valley Hospital have been purchasing gifts for nursing home residents since 2005, and in that time, have purchased gifts for nearly 300 residents. 

General surgeon and hospital staff visit senior center

December 10 - Penobscot Valley Hospital staff visited the Golden Key Senior Center on Wednesday, December 9 to sample healthy holiday recipes. Dietary director Mark Robinson and dietary manager Christine Muncey prepared a light holiday eggnog and whole wheat sweet potato pancakes for attendees. Crowd favorites were the pancakes and cranberry oatmeal cookies. Recipes are available to view on the hospital Facebook page at

Following the food tasting, PVH general surgeon David Rideout, MD presented a talk on cancer: what it is, how it comes about, incidence by region and treatment methods. The most important message that Dr. Rideout conveyed was that of preventative care and being sure that you seek out primary care and routine testing to manage your health.

Thank you to all those that attended and the Golden Key Senior Center for providing us with the space for this food tasting and presentation. 

PVH general surgeon David Rideout, MD talks to a crowd at the Golden Key Senior Center about cancer and stresses the importance of preventative care like colonoscopies. 

Nar-Anon support group meets at Methodist Church

We do understand

Nar-Anon offers support, compassion, and understanding to people whose friends or family use drugs in unhealthy ways.

These 20 questions allow us to evaluate ourselves to see if Nar-Anon might be right for us. Ask yourself the following questions and then answer them as honestly as you can.

1. Do you find yourself making excuses, lying or covering up for someone?

2. Do you have a reason not to trust this person?

3. Is it becoming difficult for you to believe his/her explanations?

4. Do you lie awake worrying about this person?

5. If it is your child, is he/she missing school often without your knowledge?

6. If it is your spouse or partner, is he/she missing work and leaving bills to pile up?

7. Are your savings mysteriously disappearing? Are items of value missing?

8. Are the unanswered questions causing hostility and undermining your relationship?

9. Are you asking yourself, "What’s wrong?" and "Is it my fault?"

10. Are normal family disagreements becoming hostile and violent?

11. Are your suspicions turning you into a detective and are you afraid of what you may find?

12. Are you canceling your social functions with vague excuses?

13. Are you becoming increasingly reluctant to invite friends to your home?

14. Is concern for this person causing you headaches, a knotty stomach and extreme anxiety?

15. Do minute matters easily irritate this person? Does your whole life seem like a nightmare?

16. Are you unable to discuss the situation with friends and relatives because of embarrassment?

17. Are you frustrated by ineffective attempts to control the situation?

18. Do you overcompensate and try not to make waves?

19. Do you keep trying to make things better and nothing helps?

20. Are the life style and friends of this person changing? Do you ever think they may be using drugs?

If you have answered “Yes” to four or more of these questions, Nar-Anon may be able to give you the answers you are looking for. Confidential meetings are held each Thursday, 6 – 7 p.m. at First United Methodist church, 8 Lee Road, Lincoln. Park on the street or in two nearby parking lots. Come up the ramp on the Route 6 side of the church. For more information call 794-8443. 

PVH Cancer Support Group Opens Lending Library

October 26 - The PVH Cancer Support Group has a new lending library thanks to a generous donation from the PVH Auxiliary. Earlier this month, Cancer Support Group member Geri Nute visited the volunteers to thank them for the oak bookshelf to house the cancer lending library and other resources. The bookshelf was custom made to match the oak furniture in the Chapel at PVH and was donated by Vernon Robichaud of Mattawamkeag.

The lending library includes many books on cancer, specific types of cancer, and free materials to help connect cancer patients and caregivers to resources. The public is welcome to visit the lending library any time, which is located in the Chapel just past the cafeteria at Penobscot Valley Hospital. You may sign out books and return them at your leisure. The group is also accepting donations of books on cancer for others to borrow.

Those suffering with cancer, survivors and caregivers are welcome to join the PVH Cancer Support Group in Conference Room B at Penobscot Valley Hospital on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, from 6:00-7:15pm. November meetings are the 10th and 24th. For more information about the PVH Cancer Support Group, call 794-7149.  

(front) PVH Auxiliary members stand with the new bookshelf they had built for the Cancer Support Group Lending Library. (l to r) Marie Kilbride, Cancer Support Group member Geri Nute, Linda Wyman. (back) PVH Auxiliary president Jan Davis, and members Marilyn Whitney, Louise Sinclair and Rena Glidden-Rush.


Before we know it, the winter flu season will be here. There are many things we can do to prepare ourselves for what is coming. For the respiratory flu, there is a vaccine (flu shot) which can be administered at your primary care physician’s office or the local pharmacies.

For the norovirus (stomach bug), there is no such vaccine. The federal Centers for Disease Control estimates that 21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis per year are due to norovirus. Becoming informed about the virus is the best means of preventing the spread of the virus.

Here are the facts from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention that you need to know:

WHAT IS NOROVIRUS: It is a highly contagious group of viruses that causes vomiting and diarrhea in people.

WHO GETS SICK: Anyone can become sick. Severity of symptoms depends on the person’s general health. The very young and the elderly are apt to be more severely affected.

HOW DO PEOPLE BECOME SICK: The virus is found in the stool and vomit of the sick people. You can become ill with the virus in several ways: by eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with the virus; by touching surfaces or objects contaminated and then placing their hands in their mouth; or by having close contact with another person who is sick. Examples of close contact are, sharing food or utensils, being present while someone is throwing up, drinking liquids from the same cup or bottle, shaking hands.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Illness comes on suddenly and may last one to two days. Children tend to have more vomiting than adults.

WHEN DO SYMPTOMS APPEAR: Symptoms usually start about 24 to 48 hours after swallowing the virus, but can appear as early as 10 hours after exposure to the virus.

HOW LONG CAN VIRUS BE PASSED ON TO OTHERS: Sick persons can spread the virus from the moment they begin feeling sick and for at least three days after the illness ends and sometimes up to two weeks after feeling better.

HOW SERIOUS IS THE ILLNESS: Most people recover in one to two days. Sometimes people are unable to drink enough fluids lost due to vomiting and diarrhea. These people may need medical attention. Symptoms of dehydration include dark colored urine, decrease in urine, dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up. Children who are dehydrated may cry with few or no tears and be unusually fussy or sleepy. Dehydration symptoms are usually only seen among the very young, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems.

HOW CAN ILLNESS BE PREVENTED: You can decrease your chances of illness by washing your hands with soap and water and dry hands with a disposable towel after toilet visits, after changing diapers, before eating or preparing foods, after touching animals. Carefully wash fruits and vegetables. Cook oysters thoroughly. Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces with a bleach based household cleaner. Immediately wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated using hot soapy water and dry at the highest temperature possible.

IF YOU BECOME ILL WITH NOROVIRUS: Stay home to avoid spreading the norovirus to friends and coworkers. Do not prepare foods for others while you have symptoms and for three days after you recover.

Diligent hand washing cannot be stressed enough to prevent the spread of throughout the year. Let us do all we can to stay healthy during this coming winter/fluseason.  

Free Community Walk and Monthly Fitness Challenge in October

October 7- October is National Physical Therapy Month! The Physical Therapy Team at Penobscot Valley Hospital invites the greater Lincoln Lakes Region to join them in celebrating physical therapy. Our team’s goal is to improve health in our community. Physical therapists are licensed health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages to help reduce pain and improve or restore mobility. Throughout the month of October, PTs will be celebrating the health and wellness efforts of our community by participating in a community wide call to promote walking in our area.

There is strong evidence that physical activity has substantial health benefits. People living with conditions such as arthritis, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or heart disease can lessen the severity and prevent progression of their disease by increasing physical activity. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends all adults engage in 30 minutes per day of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity. Children and adolescents should do one hour or more of physical activity daily.

Walking is a great way to start and maintain an active lifestyle – it requires no special equipment and has a lower risk of injury than vigorous-intensity activities such as running. Walking is something that is multipurpose, it can be done for transportation, such as to get to work or school, as well as a way to socialize such as with friends or a dog, and even be incorporated into busy work days through walking meetings or at break times.

We are offering two great ways to celebrate P.T. Month this October. First, the physical therapists at PVH will be offering free pedometers during the month of October (while supplies last). You can stop into the PVH Wellness Center at 37 Main Street in Lincoln to pick up your pedometer anytime during the month of October. We will also have available tracking sheets so that you can track you steps each day during the month of October. The goal for a healthy lifestyle is 10,000 steps per day but any goal that increases your steps from you baseline is a great way to start. Use your pedometer to track your steps in a typical day and see if you can increase that by 10% each week. You may be surprised at the results! Tracking sheets can be turned into the P.T. department throughout the month and we will tally those steps to see how far we can go together as a community. The average person covers a mile for every 2,000 steps!

Second, we will hold a community-wide walk to celebrate our progress and goals. The walk will leave from the PVH Wellness Center at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, October 14. The rehab team will be on hand and participants will be guided through a stretching session by our physical therapists. The team will then accompany walkers on their choice of route depending on their chosen level of difficulty. One shorter route over even terrain or a second longer route covering some areas of uneven ground will be presented as options. Our therapy team will share information on footwear for walking (Ever wondered what different types of shoes are for - pronators, supinators? We’ll answer those questions!) and discuss injury prevention. Register at

So please join us, start walking your way to a healthier lifestyle, tracking your steps, meet our therapy team, and get outside with your neighbors and enjoy a walk this October as we at Penobscot Valley Hospital celebrate National Physical Therapy Month! Visit our new Facebook page at for more advice, tracking sheets for the 10,000 step challenge, or to register for the walk.  

PVH 5th Annual Fall Fundraiser

September 22 - Plans are under way for the 5th annual fall Penobscot Valley Hospital fundraising event which will be held on Saturday, November 7, 2015 at Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln. This year, PVH and the Auxiliary are hosting a mystery dinner theater performed by Mystery for Hire and a catered meal by Chef Herman and students of Region III. There will be live music by professional classical ensemble North Country String Duo. The event will conclude with amazing raffles and a silent auction.
Last year's fundraising event was a huge success, netting nearly $8,000 for aesthetic improvements to the inpatient rooms at PVH. All the proceeds from this year’s event will go toward the purchase of new equipment that will save lives and increase patient comfort and safety. Specific equipment includes a LifePak 15 Defibrillator in the Emergency Department for $35,000 and an adjustable patient table at Penobscot Valley Primary Care for $7,500.

We are currently accepting sponsorships from area businesses to help us reach our fundraising goal. Visit for more information on how to be part of this fundraising event.

Tickets are on sale now. Members of the Auxiliary will be selling tickets in the lobby of Lincoln Maine Federal Credit Union this Friday, September 25. Additionally, tickets can be purchased at Penobscot Valley Hospital in the Patient Registration desks by the Laboratory and the Central Scheduling desk by the Cafeteria. You may also purchase tickets online at - BE SURE to write fundraiser tickets in the comment field - then we will mail your tickets to you. Tickets are $30 each which includes your admission, entertainment and dinner. Guests are encouraged to bring cash for some amazing raffles and silent auction items.

Please consider joining Penobscot Valley Hospital and the Auxiliary for a great evening out on November 7! 

Actors from the group Mystery for Hire will be back to entertain the crowd at Penobscot Valley Hospital’s fundraising event, “Marriage is a Mystery” Dinner Theater and Silent Auction on Saturday, November 7 at Mattanawcook Academy. Tickets are now on sale any time at PVH or on Friday in the lobby of Lincoln Maine Federal Credit Union.

Looking for great gift ideas? CLICK HERE to go to our online shop!