Church Nancy Headshot

A letter from Nancy Church, R.N. - BCCS President/CEO

As I look at the “In Loving Memory” column this month, I am reminded of those who have and continue to work with compassion here at Berrien County Cancer Service. In the first column, there is the name of Olove Colcord. If you are a regular reader of our newsletter, that name may look vaguely familiar since this newsletter is dedicated to her committed service on the first page. If you lived in the Niles area back in the 1990’s, you may have known her as the lady who ran “Love Incorporated”. If you had cancer between 1948 to 1984, you would know her as the founding nurse and director of BCCS. She was truly a nurse ahead of her time, filling her car with dressings and going into homes before there were in-home nursing agencies, taking a film projector with her to educate patients regarding their disease, and always having compassion for everyone she met. After retirement, she continued to touch the community by being the director of Love Incorporated, which gave a helping hand to those who had needs. Finally, at the age of 90, she gave up her nursing license. I remember her words of wisdom, humor (she always had a joke to tell), and kindness as she joined us at BCCS luncheons when I started working here in 1994. It was truly a privilege to know her until her passing in 2008.

As I continue down the column, there are kind words and gifts in honor of Connie Demler, RN, who I have worked with since starting here, myself, and for all the BCCS Staff. It always brings joy to my heart to know that we are appreciated for the care that we give. I like to think that Olove would be proud of the work that we continue to do.

February is cancer prevention awareness month. This might be a good month to plan some of those screenings that you have been putting off because you’ve been too busy with holidays or vacations. Maybe one of those in between months when life might be a little slower. Some of the common screening tests include colonoscopies for colon cancer, mammograms for breast cancer, PAP smears for cervical cancer, colorectal take home tests, low-dose CT lung scans for smokers, as well as other tests such as the PSA blood test. So, pick up the phone and to call your physician. Early detection is often the key to successful treatment.

While you have cancer prevention on the mind, think of ways that you can incorporate healthy food into your diet, decrease the high calorie junk food, and add some minutes of exercise into your day. You will feel better and decrease your risk for cancer.

This month is also gallbladder cancer awareness month. This infrequent cancer starts in a small pear-shaped organ that lies right under the liver. Its function is to store the bile, a fluid that breaks down fat that is made in the liver. This bile moves from the gallbladder through the bile ducts into the small intestines to mix with partially digested food to break down the fats. Often you hear about people having gallstones and having their gallbladder removed. Cancer of the gallbladder is much less common but is hard to diagnose in its early stages. While there are risk factors that you cannot control such as being female, age, ethnicity (highest in Mexican Americans and Native Americans) and family history, as stated in the previous paragraph, you can reduce your risk with a healthy diet and exercise.