Useful Resources

Publications and Other Good Reads

If you are a reader, there are a number of informative books written in layman’s terms. Some are available on loan from the Patient and Family Resource Centre at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, AB. Others can be ordered through your local book store or read online.

Other publications that may be of interest include:


Eat Well – Stay Nourished: A Recipe and  resource Guide for Coping with Eating Challenges, volumes one and two.

We Have Walked in Your Shoes: A Guide to Living with Oral, Head and Neck Cancer (available from Spohnc).

Every Bite Counts – High calorie and easy-to-swallow recipes for patients with Head and Neck Cancer (Alberta Health Services/ Cross Cancer Institute).

The Dysphagia Cookbook – Great Tasting and Nutritious Recipes for People with Swallowing Difficulties (Elayne Achilles,Ed.D.).

Soft Foods for Easier Eating Cookbook –A complete guide to providing maximum nutrition and taste with minimum discomfort. Easy-to-follow recipes for people who have chewing and swallowing problems. (Sandra Woodruff, RD and Leah Gilbert-Henderson, PhD).

The Smoothies Bible (Pat Crocker).

Publications by Bernie Siegel, M.D. Bernie Siegel, M.D. is an internationally recognized expert in the field of cancer treatment and complementary, holistic medicine. This site (berniesiegelmd.com) features his blog, his works and other useful resource

Online Resources

The following online sites have helpful information about head and neck cancers:


Peer Support

Many have found value in connecting with others during their cancer journey and beyond. Here are some options that others have found useful.

U of A Head and Neck Support Group

This professionally facilitated group meets twice per month in Edmonton. Find out more by calling 780-407-2770/6318 or emailing wendy.onishenko@albertahealthservices.ca or bonnie.pattersonpayne@albertahealthservices.ca.

Calgary Head and Neck Support Group

This professionally facilitated group meets in Calgary on the 2nd Monday of the month from 5:30 – 7:00 pm. Email guy.pelletier@ahs.ca.

Wellspring

Located in both Edmonton and Calgary, Wellspring facilities offers a range of supportive programs to cancer patients and their families. For Edmonton, contact info@wellspringedmonton.ca and in Calgary, contact https://wellspringcalgary.ca/.

CancerConnection (run by the Canadian Cancer Society)

Get in touch with someone who understands what you are going through by calling 1-888-939-3333.

Head and Neck Cancer Support Society

Members of our society can provide one-on-one peer support to those dealing with head and cancer. Please contact us by email via our website at head-way.org.

Supportive Care Products and Services


Depending on the specific type of head and neck cancer of interest, there are a number of products or services that may be useful. This is highly individual and often recommended by treating professionals. Here are some ideas and when in doubt, consult with the appropriate professional.

Mental Health Resources

Addressing mental health issues can be an important aspect of cancer care and recovery. Resources and information are available in both northern and southern Alberta at:

Cross Cancer Institute Psychosocial Services (780-643-4303)

This department provides mental health support for those dealing with a cancer diagnosis and can link with community based mental health services. Information about community-based support services can also be obtained.

In Calgary, Tom Baker’s Psychosocial Oncology provides similar services and can be contacted at (403)-355-3207 (appointments / booking).

Catholic Social Services provides psychological counselling and assessment services— including mental health and wellness — to children, youth, adults, couples, and families. If you would like to discuss your options for psychological services or book an appointment, please call us. Fees are based on a schedule suggested by the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta. Mercy Counselling accepts extended health insurance coverage. If you are concerned about affordability, Mercy Counselling will work with you to determine eligibility for financial assistance. www.catholicsocialservices.ab.ca

City of Edmonton Community Services
Provides a detailed listing of counselling available in the Edmonton region.
Contact: www.edmonton.ca or call 311.

Cornerstone Counseling Centre
Our team of Certified Counsellors, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Registered Psychologists is available you for. To ensure counselling services are affordable, we offer fee subsidies based upon financial need. Call us or fill out the following form to request an appointment. Phone 780.482.6215

Department of Psychosocial & Spiritual Resources, Cross Cancer Institute
No Cost Supports to Inpatients, Outpatients and Families impacted by Cancer. Located at Westmount Shopping Centre. Call 780-643-4303

Department of Psychosocial & Spiritual Resources, Cross Cancer Institute
No Cost Supports to Inpatients, Outpatients and Families impacted by Cancer. Located at Westmount Shopping Centre. Call 780-643-4303

The Family Centre
The Family Centre is here to help you build the awareness, understanding, knowledge, skills, and perspectives to move forward positively. A single session with one of our mental health therapists may be enough to help you think more clearly and work through your own solution when you feel stuck.
Call us at 780.423.2831 or visit https://www.familycentre.org/ for more information.

Jewish Family Services
We offer myriad counselling services, in both a group and individual format, as well as home support services and other supports. A sliding fee scale is available. Contact https://www.jfse.org/ . Phone 780.454.1194. Fax 780.482.4784..

Pilgrim’s Hospice
Pilgrims Hospice Society provides supportive and compassionate family centred care to enhance the quality and dignity of life for those diagnosed with a progressive, life-threatening illness as well as support to those who are bereaved. Cost of service is on a case by case basis.
Call: 780.413.9801 or contact us at https://pilgrimshospice.com/ .

Physical Wellbeing

Fatigue Management
The Cross Cancer Institute provides individual and group programming to deal with symptoms of fatigue. Further information can be contacted via the main switchboard at (780) 432-8771.

Alberta Cancer Exercise (ACE)
ACE is a 5-year study evaluating the benefit of exercise in cancer patients. As of this fall, ACE programming will be available in Edmonton, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Fort McMurray and Grand Prairie. For more information, visit www.albertacancerexercise.com, or call (780) 492-6007 or 1-888-452-6875.

Financial Programs: Alberta/Federal Based

Please Google search each provided site for the most up to date policies/contact info or contact the Impatient Social Worker at the Edmonton ENT Clinic (780) 407-2770

Alberta Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH)
Financial and health benefits for eligible Albertans with a permanent medical condition that prevents them from earning a living. Contact by phone at 310-0000 or 780-427-2711 or through the Government of Alberta website www.alberta.ca. Listings for regional offices are available on this website

Alberta Cancer Foundation – Patient Financial Assistance Program
Provides financial assistance for cancer patients. Contact Patient Resources at:
Tom Baker Cancer Center Patient Resource Office Telephone: +1 403-355-3207
Cross Cancer Institute Psychosocial & Spiritual Resources Telephone: +1 780-391-7664
Or https://www.albertacancer.ca/investments/patient-financial-assistance-program/

Alberta Works – Income Support
Alberta Supports can help you access more than 30 programs and 120 services for seniors, people with disabilities, job seekers, parents and families, homelessness, financial assistance, abuse, and family violence prevention.
Hours: 7:30 am to 8 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Toll free: 1-877-644-9992
Email: css.ascc@gov.ab.ca

Canadian Cancer Society – Financial Assistance Program
Provides information and links to various financial support options.
https://www.cancer.ca/en/support-and-services/support-services/financial-help-ab/?region=ab

Good Neighbour Fund – Financial Assistance Fund
The Good Neighbour Fund is a registered non-profit charitable organization that considers limited assistance to those individuals/families requiring support in exceptional cases not covered by other funding. From time to time there are individuals who need a little extra help. There are many excellent charities and resources in our community. Sometimes, though, it’s not enough. There are people whose circumstances or need is not covered by other assistance.
Contact us at:
The Good Neighbour Fund
c/o Jerry Forbes Center
12122 – 68 street
Edmonton, AB T5B 1R1
Phone or fax: 780-486-9215
info@goodneighbourfund.ca

Haying in the 30’s – Cancer Support Society
This organization was formed to provide financial assistance to those faced with cancer. As we hear of people diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatments, we do our best to help out with costs such as transportation, fuel, lodging, etc. For more information, visit: https://www.hayinginthe30s.com/

Revenue Canada – Disability Tax Credit
The disability tax credit (DTC) is a non-refundable tax credit that helps persons with disabilities or their supporting persons reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay. An individual may claim the disability amount once they are eligible for the DTC. This amount includes a supplement for persons under 18 years of age at the end of the year. The purpose of the DTC is to provide for greater tax equity by allowing some relief for disability costs, since these are unavoidable additional expenses that other taxpayers don’t have to face. Being eligible for the DTC can open the door to other federal, provincial, or territorial programs such as the registered disability savings plan, the working income tax benefit, and the child disability benefit.

Please contact the following for more information.
Canada Revenue Agency – Disability Tax Credit

Service Canada
Service Canada is a federal institution that is part of Employment and Social Development Canada. Service Canada provides Canadians with a single point of access to a wide range of government services and benefits such as Canada Pension Plan – Disability/Retirement, EI, Medical/Regular and Old Age Security.

Shine Through the Rain Foundation – Rainy Day Fund
Shine Through the Rain does many things but all in the service, one goal. That goal is to help those who are affected by life threatening illnesses. Whether it’s through services or funds, we provide guidance, support, and financial aid to those in need. We help adults, children, and families find the silver lining. When things seem gloomy and you’re being rained on, we’re here to help you shine through it.
https://www.shinethroughtherain.ca/

Transportation Services

DATS
DATS is a door-to-door public transportation service for Edmontonians who cannot use regular transit for some or all of their travel needs, due to a physical or cognitive impairment. DATS is a shared-ride public transportation service operating within the City of Edmonton corporate limits. Wheelchair lift equipped vehicles, minivans, accessible minivans, taxis and vans are used to provide DATS service. Vehicles used are clearly identified as “DATS” vehicles. DATS clients must apply, meet eligibility requirements and be registered before using DATS.
Telephone 780-496-4567 Fax 780-496-1008
Email: dats@edmonton.ca

Calgary Transit Access
Provides transportation to Calgarians that cannot use Calgary Transit services due to a disability.We work with our customers to determine eligibility, book trips and coordinate their pickup and drop off. General inquiries: 403-262-1000.

Patient and Family Resource Center, Cross Cancer Institute
Information for treatment-related transportation supports is available. 780-432-8456.

Wheels of Hope
Sometimes simply getting to treatment can be a difficult task, especially if you are also dealing with physical or financial challenges or if the treatment centre is far from home. The Canadian Cancer Society Wheels of Hope program strives to provide access to safe and reliable transportation for people who are receiving active treatment at approved cancer treatment facilities. If you need help getting to your cancer-related care in Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Red Deer, we can work with you to find the best way to get you there. For more information about how to arrange for a ride, contact the volunteer driver program coordinator for your location.
Calgary and Lethbridge: 1-800-263-6750 (toll-free)
Edmonton and Red Deer: 1-800-263-6750 (toll-free)

Care – A – Van
Lloydminster Area to Edmonton/Saskatoon for medical appointments – 780-205-1666.

Hope Air – Medical Travel Assistance
Our Mission is to provide Canadians in financial need with free travel for medical care far from home.
Contact: https://hopeair.ca/
or 1-877-346-HOPE (4673).

Eating and Swallowing

iRSM

Professional staff at this specialized facility provide swallowing assessments and treatments. More information is available on their website irsm@albertahealthservices.ca or by calling 780-735-2660.

University of Alberta Hospital ENT Clinic

Head and neck surgeons who provide care for head and neck cancer patients can be contacted at this clinic. For more information, call 780-407-8355

Cross Cancer Institute

Professional staff at this facility provide swallowing and nutrition treatments for cancer patients and can be contacted via the main switchboard at 780-432-8771.

Dental Care

A Patient’s Dental Experience

Courtesy of Baseline Village Dental Hygiene

Especially Now, Dental Hygiene Visits Are Essential

Sponsored by:

It’s safe to go for check-ups during the COVID-19 pandemic — and a visit to your dental hygienist could be life-saving.

A fear of going to the dentist had kept Brian Arundale away for years. When his wife suggested he see her new dental hygienist, Brian decided to make an appointment. He would have the dental hygienist take a look at the canker sore that had been bothering him for a few weeks.

But as soon as dental hygienist Candice Boyce looked in Brian’s mouth, she knew he had something much more serious than a canker sore. Candice immediately called an oral surgeon and asked for Brian to be seen that day.

“I found out later that the wait for an appointment was supposed to be four weeks. But Candice knew that because I was so nervous, if I’d had to wait, I probably wouldn’t have gone. And because she knew what she had seen, she told the receptionist it had to be that day,” says Brian.

The surgeon performed a biopsy and three weeks later, Brian was diagnosed with oral cancer. A few weeks after that, in March 2019, he had a 12-hour surgery to remove the cancer and repair his tongue. The surgeon also removed 78 lymph nodes from his neck and shoulders. Fortunately, the cancer hadn’t spread further and was only detected in one node.

“Everything happened very quickly,” says Brian. “And that, in my opinion, is all thanks to Candice reacting so quickly and getting tough for me. Candice is a very special person.”

Your mouth offers clues to your overall health

A dental hygienist since 2010, Candice wants people to know how important it is to care for their oral health. Many believe that what happens in the mouth stays in the mouth, but this is simply not the case. Your oral health offers clues about your overall health, and problems found in your mouth can affect the rest of your body— and your dental hygienist can find these clues. For example, bacteria that build up on teeth make gums prone to inflammation and infection. If left untreated, this can lead to gum disease, bone loss, and even tooth loss. In addition, it can cause problems in the rest of your body. Poor oral health has been connected to diabetes and heart disease, among other health conditions.

Despite this, Candice says that fewer people are going for dental check-ups during the COVID-19 pandemic due to safety fears. “We’re now seeing more periodontal disease, gingivitis, and cavities,” she says. “I think people are putting their oral health on the backburner, and it’s leading to bigger issues now that people are starting to come back.”

Don’t take chances with your health

Dental and dental hygiene offices have put strict infection prevention and control protocols in place to protect clients and staff so it’s safe to continue with regular visits. Dental hygienists assess the health of your teeth and gums, perform oral cancer screenings, remove tartar and stains from your teeth, and apply fluoride and sealants to prevent cavities — all essential steps that can prevent more serious health complications.

“Dental hygienists spend time with you and see you often over time. This means we can see if anything is changing, which enables us to intervene more quickly,” says Candice.

Brian agrees that people should practice prevention and go for regular oral hygiene visits. “I don’t even want to think about where I’d be today if it weren’t for Candice. I’m eternally grateful to her,” he says. “Don’t take chances with your health.”

U of a Dental Clinic
This clinic provides dental services for people with medical conditions, disabilities, hospital inpatients as well as the general public. For head and neck cancer patients, the clinic provides specialized dental care including access to fluoride dental trays and other products. For more information, contact 780-407-6854.

iRSM
Professional staff at this specialized facility provide specialized dental and hygiene care often required by head and neck patients. More information is available on their website https://irsmyeg.ca or by calling (780)735-2660.

Funding Possibility for Dental Care 
Confronted with expensive dental care?  Alberta Health’s OMDS Program may provide funding for some high-cost dental services required in conjunction with an oral surgical procedure insured under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. In order to qualify, the program recipients must require dental services in relation to severe oral/facial conditions caused by birth defects, jaw abnormalities (tumors), major facial trauma or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. A formal referral to the program by an Oral and Maxilliofacial Surgeon on behalf of the patient is required. Benefits are limited to payment for services such as orthodontics, prosthodontics, dental implants and presurgical work-up fees. The OMDS Program is the payer of last resort; all private dental insurance benefits must be utilized prior to funding being requested and an explanation of benefits must accompany the dental claim.
If you have any questions about the OMDS Program, please contact the Alberta Health Dental Program Coordinator at 780-415-1475. Inquiries can also be mailed to: OMDS Program Dental Program Coordinator Alberta Health PO Box 1360 Edmonton AB T5J 2N3.  Your treating professional or hospital social worker may be able to provided assistance.

 

Useful Dry Mouth Products

There are numerous dry mouth products that are often recommended for use for those experiencing symptoms, including those with head and neck cancer. Some include:

  • Biotene products including moisturizing mouthwash, mouth spray and oral balance gel.
  • Sensodyne toothpaste and mouthwash for sensitivity relief.
  • Remin, a fluoride free toothpaste.
  • MI Paste, a topical paste with bio-available calcium and phosphate.
  • XyliMelts, time release adhering tablets for dry mouth symptoms.

Most of these products are available at your local pharmacy but may be shelved separately from regular dental products. Some products are available from your dental specialist. As individual needs can vary, it is always best to consult with your treatment team.

We welcome feedback from our members and others to add new information and ideas. Please the Contact Us link on the home page.

Contact Us

Head and Neck Cancer Support Society
P.O. Box 4773 Edmonton, Alberta T6E5G6

info@head-way.org

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