The Essence of Palliative Care

Our board member, Tina Nole of Larj Media is the producer of UW Medicine’s Pulse Podcast. She shared a recent episode with us which featured a discussion about Palliative Care. Palliative Care is a specialty service that provides an extra layer of support for patients and is appropriate at any age and at any stage of a serious illness. Tune in to Pulse Podcast as guests Darrell Owens D.N.P., A.R.N.P., Randy Curtis, M.D., M.P.H. and our friend Debra Jarvis discuss this wonderful service.

This fall Cancer Lifeline will present “Palliative Care: An Important Component of Cancer Treatment” at EvergreenHealth in Kirkland. Contact to request a class catalog. Registration opens on August 26th at

Outpatient Palliative Care

Consider the Conversation: A Documentary About A Taboo Subject



Facilitator:      Stephanie Mehl, RN, MS

Date & Time: Thursday, September 26, 6:30-8:30 pm

Location:        Cancer Lifeline, Dorothy O’Brien Center, 6522 Fremont Ave. North, Seattle, 98103


Join us for this moving and thought provoking film, followed by a discussion with time for questions and answers. “Motivated by their personal experiences with loss, two long-time friends – one a hospice worker and the other a teacher- present a powerful and inspiring film on the American struggle with communication and preparation at life’s end. Consider the Conversation examines multiple perspectives on end-of-life care and includes interviews with patients, family members, doctors, nurses, clergy, social workers and national experts from around the country. The film’s goal is to inspire dialogue between patient and doctor, husband and wife, parent and child, minister and parishioner. This is not a story about death; it’s a film about living life to its fullest.”

Call For Voluneers

“Those who make compassion an essential part of their lives find the joy of life. Kindness deepens the spirit and produces rewards that cannot be completely explained in words. It is an experience more powerful than words. To become acquainted with kindness one must be prepared to learn new things and feel new feelings. Kindness is more than a philosophy of the mind. It is a philosophy of the spirit.” Robert J. Furey, Author


Call for Volunteers

Position:  Lifeline Volunteer

Location:  Offsite from your home workspace

Our 24 hour telephone Lifeline provides emotional support and resource referrals for all people living with cancer through all stages of the cancer journey: patients, survivors, friends, family members, caregivers and co-workers.  Volunteer must be comfortable listening to profound emotions and have ability to be a good listener, able to provide non-judgmental support to others, and understand that listening does not equate to giving advice or fixing.


Volunteering Requirements:

  • Volunteer  must have access to the internet and a phone to connect remotely to the  Lifeline
  • Respond to calls on the 24-hour Lifeline with emotional support and resource information to clients, including registering clients for Cancer Lifeline programs.
  • Helps clients register for Cancer Lifeline classes using web based registration program
  • Fill out call logs and other required reporting
  • Participate in four Lifeline in-service meetings per year
  • One year volunteer commitment
  • Advance notice (2-3 months) of plans to leave Lifeline Program

Training Requirements: You will need to participate in a 30-hour weekend training program on October 5, October 6, October 19 and October 26.  After training, you will be asked to take up to four daytime shifts per month:

Mondays:  1pm – 6pm

Wednesdays:  9am – 1pm

Fridays:  9am – 1pm

Fridays: 1pm – 6pm Saturdays:  1pm – 6pm

Sundays:  9am – 1pm

If you are interested in volunteering for this very important work, please contact Meghan Wilkins Melanson at Cancer Lifeline. She can be reached at or 206-832-1296.

Workplace Giving to Cancer Lifeline

Fall is the time when the vast majority of employers, including most of the areas’ largest, hold their annual workplace giving campaigns. Some even start a little early, such as UPS, which started in July.

The exception to this rule is that the following companies have spring/early summer campaign dates: Virginia Mason Hospital, Seattle Seahawks/Sounders FC , Seattle Times, Fisher Communications, Target and Pemco.

While United Way of King County is appreciative of all gifts. they do ask that you pledge $30 or more  to keep administrative costs low. Remember, in addition to gifts through United Way, you can always make gifts directly to Cancer Lifeline!

To find out when your employers’ workplace giving campaign starts contact your Human Resources department or your campaign coordinator.

If you have any questions about how to designate Cancer Lifeline on your workplace giving form, please call Jeanne Lamont at 206-832-1273 or JLamont@cancerlifeline.

Save The Date!

Thai Siam Restaurant 26th Annual Benefit Dinner

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Noon to 8:30 pm

8305 15th Ave NW Seattle, WA 98117

Each year, Thai Siam hosts an anniversary party where the proceeds go to local non-profit agencies. Again this year, Cancer Lifeline and Union Gospel Mission will be beneficiaries.

At last year’s event, nearly 800 people showed up and the event raised over $30,000! The dinner includes an all you can eat Thai menu buffet, traditional thai music and dancers, and local artists.

The cost is $27.00 for adults and $7.00 for kids under 12. For more information about the restaurant, please visit See you there!



H is for Herbs: for the Young and Young at Heart!

You don’t have to be a kid – or bring one – to attend this fun and fragrant class on herb gardening. Herbs are a key culinary ingredient for anyone who is trying to prepare as much of their own fresh, healthy food at home. The addition of fresh herbs makes the simplest steamed vegetable or baked filet appetizing to the most sensitive palates. But at $3 per pack at most grocery stores, keeping them on hand is prohibitively expensive.

Solution? Grow your own! Herbs are essential denizens of any garden, no matter how small. Even a sunny windowsill will sustain many herbs year-round. We will have seeds available for planting at this class for the herbs listed below. Additionally, along with your newly planted herbs, you will take home simple, economical, delicious recipes to try once your seedlings sprout into something a little more substantial.

Kris is a seasoned instructor. A longtime teacher in Cancer Lifeline’s Exercise & Movement program, she has focused her efforts in the gardening realm since 2010. She completed Oregon Tilth’s Organic Gardening Certification Program that year, and Oregon State University’s Master Gardener Program in 2011. Since that time, Kris has taught garden education to students aged 3 to 93, and delights in inspiring them to cultivate their own gardening potential.

Please click here to register for H is for Herbs. See you there!

Thai Basil

Dill, Thai Basil, Genovese Basil, Cilantro, Sweet Marjoram, Russian Tarragon, English Broadleaf Thyme, Italian Parsley

What do you get when you combine…

…collage and poetry? Our new Spring Art Exhibit!

From now through June 24th you are invited to view a spectacular art exhibit on display at Cancer Lifeline’s Dorothy O’Brien Center.  As you enter the center’s lobby, you are immediately surrounded by an astonishingly vibrant and moving exhibit of visual and written art. Members of the Northwest Collage Society were invited to adopt poetry written by participants of Cancer Lifeline’s writers group (Writing For the Moment) and interpret those poems visually. The call and response of poetry and collage speaks volumes of loss, pain, the comfort and love of friends and loved ones, and ultimately the resilience of the human spirit in the face of life threatening challenge.

ImageA tour of this exhibit is a perfect way to celebrate Cancer Lifeline’s 40th Anniversary.  Since we first inaugurated site-based programs at the Dorothy O’Brien Center, Creative Expression has been a mainstay of the free classes offered. Some are drawn to writing, some to collage, or painting, some to nature crafts. All are offered by trained facilitators to add coping tools the tool box to help people navigate the seas of cancer.

“I first came to Cancer Lifeline when a relative was living with ovarian cancer. The writing class promised a safe and supportive venue where I could express my fears and concerns without burdening other family members,” a writing group participant said.  “It made me better able to support my family and friends with cancer in their healing process.”

The Dorothy O’Brien Center is located in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood, at 6522 Fremont Avenue North. The center is open 9 to 5 Monday through Fridays, and Saturdays by appointment. Please call 206-297-2100 for more information on this exhibit.

Springtime Savory Soup

Inspired by springtime in Seattle, here is a marvelous quick and savory soup for the intermittent sunshine! 


Thai Chicken Soup

Makes 4 servings

4 cloves garlic
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
1 (6-ounce) boneless chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 (15-ounce) can chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk
4 baby bok choy heads, sliced
Fresh cilantro for garnish
1 teaspoon crushed red chilies

1. Rub the garlic and ginger through a very fine grater or put them in the blender with a couple of tablespoons of water and purée until smooth. Put the vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and sauté the ginger and garlic for one minute or until the aroma fills the air.

2. Add the onion, pepper and carrot and sauté one minute longer. Add the chicken and cook 5 minutes, turning the chicken pieces three or four times as they begin to brown.

3. Pour in chicken broth and coconut milk and bring the soup to a boil. Add the baby bok choy and cook 2 minutes. Transfer soup to serving bowls and top with cilantro leaves and crushed red chilies. 

Featured in the Cancer Lifeline Cookbook. 

Understanding My New Role as a Caregiver

caregiverNovember 21, 2005 is a day I will never forget. Not only was my wife Heather diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, but it was also the day I became her caregiver through her journey to beat cancer. Our daughter Lily had been born less than four months before Heather’s diagnosis, and our once bright and exciting future now looked bleak and uncertain.

As we sat in the doctor’s office that day and our treatment options were laid out for us, I looked over at my wife to see her decision, and I realized that she was too shocked and terrified to go forward.

I was terrified by everything in those days. I thought my wife was going to die, that her treatment would eat up all of our money and that I would end up a widower with a baby daughter to care for. I ended up crying my eyes out on the kitchen floor more than once.  I had bad days, this was inevitable, but I always made sure to hide these moments of weakness from Heather.  She needed me to be strong for her, and that’s exactly what I was going to be.

It is difficult to be a caregiver to someone with a serious disease. Your life gets eaten up with stress and uncertainty, and it may be toughest thing you ever go through. You can’t quit, and you can’t walk away. You have to allow yourself to have bad days, but always hold on to hope, and never give in to fear and despair.

It took years before we were able to return to a normal routine. Heather underwent an invasive procedure called an extrapleural pneumonectomy, along with chemotherapy and radiation.  Despite the overwhelming odds against her, she came out on top, and seven years after her diagnosis, she is cancer free.

This cancer ordeal has taught me a lot. One of the most important things that it has taught me is that there is a place for my type of stubbornness in the world. I realized that after things had calmed down somewhat, I had what it took to go back to school. My experience as a caregiver gave me the stress and time management skills that I needed to succeed at school.  More importantly, it gave me the courage to pursue this dream of mine.

When Lily was two, I went back to school full time. After a lot of hard work, I graduated with honors and was selected to speak at my graduation ceremony.  Just a few years before, sitting in a doctor’s office and being told that my wife might die from cancer, I never would have imagined I would come so far. I told my fellow graduates that by holding on to hope and believing in ourselves, we can accomplish incredible things in the face of enormous odds.  Heather and Lily were in the audience, cheering me on, and that was the greatest reward of all. Facing cancer will likely be the most difficult challenge you’ll ever face, but it might teach you a few things along the way.  Never give up hope, and never stop fighting for the ones you love.

**This post is from guest blogger Cameron Von St. James. If you need guidance on how to be a caregiver, call our 24-hour lifeline for more information. 1-800-255-5505

Bird Art: Check out our Walls @ Cancer Lifeline

Curious Juvenile Long-eared Owljan_viney f (1 of 1)The Dorothy O’Brien Center is a special place in the Greenlake Neighborhood in Seattle. What make the center truly memorable are the people, classes and art.

This month, our walls have been taken over by the beautiful bird photography of artists Tom Talbott and Jan Viney.

Talbott spent the past year photographing birds in the Pacific Northwest.  Though his travels took him from Northern California to the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, many of the stars of this show are right from our own neighborhood. Tom has an eye for finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, and his show “Wings in My World: A year’s retrospective” is no exception.

Viney focuses on nature, the awe and wonder of it all and humanity experiencing life.

The February Art Open House will be at Cancer Lifeline on Friday, February 8th from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. The will run through March 25th.

 A percentage of the profits from sales at this show will go to Cancer Lifeline.

You can see more of Tom and Jan’s work at:

Healing with Words

writing classA cancer diagnosis is devastating, stopping us in our tracks and often flooding our senses with a mind numbing array of emotions. Journal writing is one very effective and easy tool for your toolbox of coping skill, helping you to sort through and make sense of the cancer journey.

In fact, studies have found that cancer patients who express their emotions in writing experience physical and psychological benefits, in some cases lessening some symptoms. Writing can do many things, from clarifying goals, to giving one a different perspective on their experience, to helping  get to know oneself better and understand what gives  life meaning to life. It’s also a safe way of expressing difficult feelings, like anger, hurt and fear.

Cancer Lifeline is proud to offer a new series of workshops. “Writing Through Cancer,” facilitated by Jed Myers, MD, uses writing as a means for navigating this uncharted and stressful world of life-threatening illness. Dr. Myers, a therapist and poet, will guide and support participants as they explore and give voice to their experience. All writing styles are welcomed and there will be no expectation to share ones work.

Like all of Cancer Lifeline’s programs, it is offered at no cost to participants. What have you got to lose? Grab a pen and find a notebook or journal and come and explore this new world of writing with fellow and sister travelers.

Session 1 runs from January 25 through February 15th, 1-3pm. Session 2 from Friday March 8th through March 29th. This class is offered at Cancer Lifeline’s Dorothy O’Brien Center 6522 Fremont Ave. North, in the Greenlake neighborhood.

Program Highlights for the New Year!

firework displayA New Year and new resolutions!  At each of our sites you will find a variety of exercise, nutrition and stress management classes with wonderful, warm and exceptionally skilled facilitators. And speaking of wonderful, warm & exceptionally skilled facilitators, don’t forget to care for your emotional needs by checking out one of our cancer support groups.

First up, Cancer Lifeline would like to extend a huge welcome to the Young Survival Coalition who will begin having their monthly breast cancer support group meetings at our Dorothy O’Brien Center starting in January!

Also in January, Cancer Lifeline will be offering our first nutrition class in collaboration with our friends at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

In 2013, we are proud to be continuing our long-term partnerships with UW Medicine at Northwest Hospital & Medical Center and Valley Medical Center as well as with Evergreen Health. Exciting things are happening at each of these sites, but the new Cancer Center at Evergreen Health is a significant change for program participants!  With new space dedicated to Cancer Lifeline programming, Evergreen has made it easier for you to access the programs that help you through your cancer journey.

Cancer Lifeline is also proud to continue to work with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Puget Sound affiliate to administer their Patient Assistance Fund, which provides financial assistance to low-income breast cancer patients who are within 3 months of treatment.

On behalf of all the staff at Cancer Lifeline and community partners-we look forward to providing professionally led, high-quality support services in 2013.

Keepsake Exhibit this Friday!

This Friday is the opening reception for “Keepsake: A Collaborative, Multi-Media Art Installation” exhibit by Christy Fisher. This multi-media art project explores the theme of a keepsake: “a valuable token given or received in honor or remembrance of a person or important event.”

During the workshop participants collected keepsakes and kept them in boxes. From expression through movement and nature, participants were able to come together and share meaningful experiences about the effects of cancer on their lives.

handsThere are two components of this exhibit, the video which was produced by Christy Fisher, and created in collaboration with musician and composer Amy Denio, filmmaker Ryan K. Adams and artist Kristin Tollefson. There will also be artful keepsake boxes displayed in the hallway of the Dorothy O’Brien Center.

Come join us for the grand opening of “Keepsake” this Friday, December 7, from 6:30-8pm at the Dorothy O’Brien Center, 6522 Fremont Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103

This project is supported by 4Culture and the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.

Yum Yum Yum! Healthy Recipe for Thanksgiving

For our Healthier Thanksgiving Class that took place @ PCC on November 9, there were some amazing and fun recipes to spice up the normal holiday fare.

Check out this neat recipe that puts a spin on a traditional cranberry sauce:

Raw Cranberry Orange Relish

This tart sweet relish can be made as smooth or chunky as you desire. Traditional cranberry sauce is loaded with bleached white sugar which is also genetically modified. You can make this to eat right away or up to 2 days in advance.

2 organic oranges, washed and dried, peeled after zeting

Zest from one orange or both for extra orange flavor

12 ounces cranberries

¼ cup natural sweetener (like coconut palm sugar, natural sugar cane, honey or maple sugar)

Optional: 1 tablespoon orange liquor

In a food processor, pulse the cranberries and oranges until chunky. Add in reminaing ingredients and blend until you reach your desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Not everyone is great at expressing their feelings and emotions out right, sometimes it takes a different approach. We see images every day and don’t engage or become aware of the emotions that these images invoke. Come learn how pictures and even simple phrases can help you express what’s really happening inside and how these things can help open up your communication. All materials provided. At the Special Women Breast Cancer Networking Group, open to those affected by breast cancer.

TOMORROW: Thursday, Nov 15 from  7-8pm
Valley Medical Center, Medical Arts Center
Breast Center Conference Room 
REGISTER HERE or just drop by!