Support group has different focus

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— Sunsets are more likely to take your breath away and give you pause if you're aware of your mortality, and of the fact that each day of life is a gift.
That's just one of the many reasons that Steamboat residents and cancer survivors Bob Dapper and Kay Borvansky feel their lives have taken turns for the better since their diagnoses.
"None of us know what's ahead," Dapper said. "There's no time like the present to start appreciating that."
"You are not immortal," Borvansky added. "Whatever you have here is a gift. And we want to help give people hope."
To help give men of northwest Colorado hope, tools for coping and a place to share concerns about cancer, Borvansky, a longtime coordinator of cancer support groups, is starting up a group specifically for men in the Yampa Valley.
As a collaborative effort between the Visiting Nurse Association of Northwest Colorado and the Yampa Valley Medical Center, men dealing with cancer and that doesn't necessarily mean they're patients themselves are invited to come alone or with their loved ones for cancer education and everyday coping tools.
Dapper, an otherwise healthy, Iron Man triathlete, avid runner and biker, was diagnosed with cancer two years ago. He's willing to step up to the plate as a successful athlete and Routt County man to say, though it is not common, it is important, productive and fun for men to be able to open up and talk about the disease.
"People including men deserve to have some say-so about how their struggles and time with cancer actually go," he said.
Dapper added that the group meetings will not be tea parties or knitting sessions.
Borvansky ,who was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 1982 at age 30, and has been working with cancer support groups continuously since then, said attitude is 99 percent of the battle.
"Some people are told by their doctors that they have six months to live, and, lo and behold, six months and one day later, they're gone," she said. "Other people stand up and say, 'No! I'm going to learn about this. And I'm going to have a good time doing it.' Because whether you're 20 or 50, it's all about how you live the days you've been given."
Borvansky said that as part of the VNA, she's noticed there's a steadily increasing number of men in the valley who are being diagnosed with cancer all different kinds.
"There are lots of places for women to go and deal with these things, but nothing especially for men. Now's the time," she said.
Borvansky said that recently, men with cancer have been getting better about vocalizing their conditions which directly leads to better understanding and treatment for various types of cancer.
"But I don't know that they're still any good," Dapper said. "Timing's different for everyone, but you finally get to a point when outreach and assistance are the necessary next steps in recovery."
Borvansky said that for her, years after recovering, taking part in educational and support groups has allowed her to reach new levels of self-understanding.
"Philosophically, I think the whole world is made up of different-sized, different kinds of support groups," Dapper said. "We look for and eventually get help in our own ways. Generally speaking? Men are bad patients. And we need to dispel false information, false perceptions of cancer and deal with what is really going on in a cancer victim's mind."
The first of the group meetings will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Oct. 18 at the No.2 conference room at the Yampa Valley Medical Center. For more information, call Kay at 879-1632 or Bob at 879-4536, ext. 107.

To reach Bonnie Nadzam call 871-4204 or e-mail bnadzam@amigo.net

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