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Release: Dec. 2, 1999

UI Cancer Center to host program on holiday perspectives Dec. 9-10

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Cancer Center will present a holiday program that gives patients and family members facing cancer a fresh perspective on the hectic holiday season.

"The Holidays and Cancer: Celebrating and Coping Simultaneously" will be presented from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Dec. 9 in the Atrium Dining Room on the seventh floor of the John Colloton Pavilion and from 9 to 11 a.m. Dec. 10 in the East Room on the eighth floor of Colloton Pavilion at the UI Hospitals and Clinics.

"The holiday season is an important and emotionally-charged time of year. When you add an illness it can create an extra challenge," said Joy Sutter, assistant director in the UI Cancer Center Department of Social Service. "We want to offer this program as a way for people to come and learn how to balance coping and celebration simultaneously."

This time of year can be an emotional, physical and financial strain, filled with expectations, obligations and the pressure of creating the ideal holiday. Cancer-related fatigue can also weaken the spirit, Sutter said.

The Rev. Bruce Williams, a pastoral counselor at Hillcrest Family Services in Cedar Rapids and the Community Pastoral Counseling Service in Iowa City, will host the program. He hopes to address the ways in which individuals can personalize the holidays and change the frantic, overwhelming tone that often dominates the season.

"The holidays tend to heighten the intensity of the illnesses people face because of all the expectations to create a certain image," Williams said. "I hope to show people that they can set their own standards and their own traditions. Rituals can be beneficial to people, and they need to find the right rituals for themselves."

Williams' talk will have a two-part focus. He will share insights about coping and speak of clinical experiences he has had as a parish pastor, hospital chaplain and mental health counselor.

The second portion of the program will include an open dialogue session in which audience members can ask questions and share thoughts. Additionally, Williams will emphasize the value of humor.

The "Holidays and Cancer" program is part of what Joy Sutter considers the "whole picture" while treating patients.

"We need to demonstrate that we aren't just health care providers. We're interested in the wellness of all patients and their families at the Cancer Center," Sutter said.

The program is free and open to the public both days. Refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Joy Sutter at (319) 356-1730 or Linda Abbott at (319) 353-8188.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.