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Raymond Fuller was stunned when he received a kidney cancer diagnosis in March 2018.
“I felt like my world was coming down around me,” said Fuller, 50. “I had no symptoms, no clue about anything. It was life-changing.”
Immune-based therapies, targeted treatments and clinical trials have dramatically improved his physical health and cancer recovery.
And the best medicine for his mental health and determination? Fuller credits the Cedars-Sinai Renal Cell Carcinoma Support Group. Fuller has been a regular at the group sessions since his first appointment at Cedars-Sinai Cancer nearly two years ago.
“The group helps so much-the positivity, the information-sharing, all of it,” said Fuller, a Westchester furniture and cabinet maker. “It helps me appreciate the moment and look forward. I see people who’ve been dealing with this disease for 15 years and are doing fine. That’s uplifting.”
The sessions feature an array of speakers, including dietitians, oncologists, radiologists, social workers and others who treat cancer survivors. The group meetings provide an opportunity to get detailed information and advice from experts. Participants also talk shop with each other – fellow travelers who know better than anyone else what they’re enduring.
“Patients want to know about treatment-what’s out there, what’s next, what’s under investigation,” said Nancy Moldawer, a longtime kidney cancer nurse, researcher and facilitator of the Cedars-Sinai cancer support group. “They take each other’s phone numbers and often have one-on-one chats when the meetings end. They create their own support network outside of our meetings, too, which is an enduring gift.”
When the holiday season rolls around, some participants need an extra boost as they deal with the stress of large gatherings, rich meals and fatigue, Moldawer said. To combat those seasonal challenges, Moldawer strives to present an inspiring end-of-year educational program.
“I try to make it spiritually uplifting and meaningful,” Moldawer said. “And, of course, we serve healthy, festive holiday snacks.”
Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in men and women. Nearly 74,000 new cases of the disease will occur by the end of this year, according to the American Cancer Society. About 14,770 people will die from it.
“From day one at Cedars-Sinai, I wanted to talk to others who share my experience,” Fuller said. “I have great friends, but they don’t understand what I’m going through and sometimes it’s hard to talk to them. The group makes me feel normal again.”
Cedars-Sinai is located at 8700 Beverly Blvd. For information, visit cedars-sinai.org.
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