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December 26, 2013 - Image 38

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-12-26

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health & wellness

Feeling Supported from page 37

It may be beautiful on the
outside but it's what's on the
inside that counts


Call us today at (248) 683-1010.

4460 Orchard Lake Road
West Bloomfield, MI 48323

in ®


Ask about our dedicated Memory Care Unit

December 26 • 2013


each month, from 6-7:30 p.m. at
Karmanos' Weisberg Cancer Treatment
Center in Farmington Hills.
Kathleen Hardy, oncology social
worker at Karmanos,
helps facilitate the
group and says the
men who participate
in it are uplifted by
each other.
"Men are often
hesitant to get into
a men's support
group:' she said. "It's
difficult to find other
men with chronic
cancers, but the men who are part of
this group really 'get it: They have a
sense of humor and they come out
of the group feeling better. It's such a
compassionate group:'
Katz added that men relate to one
another differently than if the sup-
port group were mixed with men and
"Men have a different background:'
he said. "They traditionally see them-
selves as the supporters, not the sup-
ported. In this group, you learn coping
skills, not just survival strategies, but
emotional strategies, too. We also talk
about physical side effects and emo-
tional and relationship issues.
"You'll find the group relates at a
normal, realistic level. It's spontaneous
and it's natural:'
Katz also has begun reaching out
to younger men who are faced with
cancer to help guide them through
"There's a lot of fear of going into
chemotherapy:' he said. "I've tried to
talk to people about that, and empha-
size that having a positive attitude is
important. I really think the emotional
support is a critical foundation to suc-
cessful treatment:'
Katz says that he will always have
to contend with cancer, considering
that pancreatic cancer never goes into
remission. He takes oral chemotherapy
for two weeks at a time, with one week
off. He sees Dr. Philip every three
weeks and has an MRI done every
three months. Today, his tumors are
barely discernible and he says that he
feels good.

New Adjustments

Even so, his and Cynthia's journey has
been a complicated one. After work-
ing for 26 years at Chrysler, Katz was
recruited by Utilimaster in 2011. He
accepted a position as executive direc-
tor of sales operations and business
development, a job that allowed him to
be more personally involved in high-
level strategic direction.
This August, one year after his diag-
nosis, however, the company cut staff

and Katz was the only executive tar-
geted for layoff as part of the reduction.
As a result, Cynthia, a software engi-
neer, had to begin working full time to
qualify for health insurance.
Katz now is on long-term disabil-
ity and the couple recently sold their
Bloomfield home and moved into a
condo. Katz said it's been an adjust-
ment with the move, as well as waking
up in the morning and not going to a
As a former president for four years
and current executive board member
of Temple Kol Ami in West Bloomfield,
Katz said he is pursuing volunteer
opportunities through the congrega-
tion, as well as at other Jewish-based
community organizations and pancre-
atic cancer foundations. He also contin-
ues to mentor fellow cancer patients at
Katz says that first and foremost, the
unfailing support of Cynthia and of his
daughters, Sarah, 23, and Emily 21,
was directly responsible for him pull-
ing through.
"I don't think I would be here today
without them," he said. "I think that
dealing with cancer may be as difficult,
if not even harder, for the caregivers,
than it is for the patients:'
Having moved to Michigan from
Massachusetts in 2002, the Katz family
still has relatives in the Boston area.
He credits his family there, as well as
his many Michigan friends, the staff at
Karmanos and particularly congrega-
tion members at Kol Ami for his suc-
"It was uplifting to find that so many
people I never thought we were that
close to give so much so willingly:' he
said. "Their commitment bolstered
my ability to believe in a positive out-
come, which may have been as much
of a factor in my success as the chemo
regimen itself. I truly believe the emo-
tional support had a direct impact on
my physical condition.
"From this diagnosis, I've learned
about perspective, of what's important
in a much broader sense:' he added.
"I've learned to accept support. I wel-
come direction today, and I've learned
that in any situation you're in, you can
find a positive outlook.
"I realize there is a lot to live for and
the best way to do that is to give back
to others. It's part of my recovery:"

For more information about the Men's
Support Group at Karmanos and comple-
mentary therapies through the Leah A.
Davidson Healing Arts Fund, call (800)
527-6266 or visit www.karmanos.org .
Elizabeth A. Katz is the external market-
ing and communications manager at the
Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute.
She is not related to Howard Katz.

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