Gift of Life introduces new support program for cancer survivors

Published 12:42 am Saturday, July 23, 2022

Officials with Gift of Life are bringing back one successful program while introducing a brand new one.

“It is always a great time for me when I can talk about an organization that gives so much back to this community,” said Ingrid Holmes, who also serves on the Port Arthur City Council.

“Each year prior to 2019 we had a prostate screening program in all three cities — Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange. And we offered free prostate cancer screenings. We offered hypertension screenings.

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“We offered blood sugar screenings and cholesterol screenings. (It was) free to men in our community. It was a great turnout, and then of course, there was COVID.”

The program has returned on a smaller scale, Holmes said, with screenings being done at the Port Arthur Health Department and Baptist Hospitals Southeast Texas in Orange and Beaumont. Those are done by appointment only.

“It’s been a successful program,” she said. “Unfortunately we’ve had a couple of men who have been diagnosed. Thank God it was in early stages. Early detection works.”

In addition, Gift of Life has started a new program geared specifically to support cancer survivors.

Active Living After Cancer is a 12-week program with morning and afternoon Zoom classes.

“It’s for cancer survivors, both men and women,” said Rita Davis. “They can be survivors of 25 years, or they can have just completed treatment. It is a support program. It is an educational program. It is a program that gives survivors a lot of confidence going forward.”

Davis said they work with survivors on a variety of topics from nutrition and exercise to setting goals.

“It’s engaging, it enables our participants to share, to give back to us, to share their feelings, and we really get into some emotional discussions,” she said. “We have people that have been survivors for 25 years and they still need encouragement. They’re still dealing with fatigue. But they in turn have a lot of information that they can feed back to our new survivors. It’s really engaging and helpful, and a wonderful support program.”

Dianne Marks said the program focuses on three phases — goal setting, exercise and healthy diets.

“Each and every class has a different lesson. Gift of Life provides them with a manual, resistance bands and a pedometer,” she said. “I am a breast cancer survivor, so I can relate to the fatigue a person might experience after treatment.”

Marks said they also teach survivors how to exercise safely.

“We recognize and realize that sometimes bodies change after a participant has gone through cancer treatment,” she said.

For more information on the Active Living After Cancer program, call 409.833.3663. In September Gift of Life will host two large, free screening events — one in Jefferson County and one in Orange County. — that will be open to the public. For more information, call 409-833-3663.