Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus Update

***UPDATE June 26, 2020***

We continue to put the safety of our patients and employees at the forefront of all of our efforts.
Beginning Monday, June 29, our visitor policy has changed and we will now allow one guest to accompany our patients to their appointments.



An update on our support services:
* Yoga for healing is being held online! Contact  or text/call 701-319-0156 for the yoga link.

* Monthly support groups are being held at Sertoma Park with social distancing practices in place. 

* Massage therapy is coming back with limited sessions and times. Enjoy that well-deserved massage.

* Our REACH Coordinator is now meeting face-to-face at the clinic. 

Please feel free to contact the clinic with questions, 701-222-6100.


What is Survivorship?

What is Survivorship?

What is Survivorship?

A person who has had cancer is commonly called a cancer survivor. “Co-survivor” is sometimes used to describe a person who has cared for a loved one with cancer.

Not everyone who has had cancer likes the word “survivor.” The reasons for this may vary. For instance, they may simply identify more with being “a person who has had cancer.” Or if they are dealing with cancer every day, they may describe themselves as “living with cancer.” Therefore, they may not think of themselves as a survivor.

Living with a history of cancer is different for each person. But most people have the common belief that life is different after cancer.

Other common reactions that people have after cancer include:

  • Appreciating life more.
  • Being more accepting of themselves.
  • Feeling more anxious about their health.
  • Not knowing how to cope after treatment ends.

Understanding survivorship

Cancer survivorship has at least two common meanings:

  • Having no signs of cancer after finishing treatment.
  • Living with, through, and beyond cancer. This means that cancer survivorship starts at diagnosis. It includes people who receive treatment over a longer time. Their treatment can lower the chance of the cancer coming back or help to keep the cancer from spreading.

The phases of survivorship

There are 3 phases of survivorship:

  • Acute survivorship starts at diagnosis and goes through to the end of initial treatment. Cancer treatment is the focus.
  • Extended survivorship starts at the end of initial treatment and goes through the months after. The effects of cancer and treatment are the focus.

Permanent survivorship is when years have passed since cancer treatment ended. There is less of a chance that the cancer may come back. Long-term effects of cancer and treatment are the focus.



Survival statistics

The number of people who have had cancer has gone up significantly over the last 45 years in the United States. In 1971, there were 3 million people with cancer. Today there are more than 15.5 million.

  • About 67% of today’s cancer survivors were diagnosed five or more years ago.
  • About 17% of all cancer survivors were diagnosed 20 or more years ago.
  • Nearly half (47%) of survivors are age 70 or older.

 Most cancer survivors have had common cancers:

  • 23% – breast cancer
  • 21% – prostate cancer
  • 9% – colorectal cancer
  • 8% – cervical, uterine, or ovarian cancers
  • 8% – melanoma

Higher survival rates may be due to the following major improvements in cancer prevention and treatment:

  • Screening tests may find cancers earlier. These tests include:
    • Mammography for breast cancer
    • Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA)for prostate cancer
    • Colonoscopy for colorectal cancer
    • Pap test for cervical cancer

Existing treatments are being used in better ways:

Learn more about the history of cancer research on the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s website.

Surviving cancer: What to expect

At the end of treatment, a person has less frequent contact with the health care team. Survivors may have:

  • Relief that treatment is over
  • Uncertainty about the future
  • Increased anxiety
  • Fear that the cancer will come back
  • Guilt about surviving, having lost others to cancer
  • Physical, psychological, sexual or fertility problems
  • Relationship struggles
  • Discrimination at work
  • A social network that now feels like it is not enough

 Changes in Relationships

When active treatment is over, some survivors’ needs change, and relationships may shift. For example:

  • Some friends may become closer, while others keep themselves at a distance.
  • Families can become overprotective. Or it may feel as if they are no longer being as supportive.
  • Relationship problems from before the cancer diagnosis can surface again.

What you can do:

  • Understand that the entire family changes from the cancer experience in ways they may not be aware of.
  • Work through these changes to get the support you need.
  • Maintain open and ongoing communication.
  • Realize that when and how you share your diagnosis is a personal choice.
  • If you choose to talk about your journey, set limits on what you share.
  • Think about what coworkers might ask you about during and after treatment. Decide in advance how you want to answer their questions.

*Adapted from the American Cancer Society’s publication and the National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Survivorship.

Ask a Pro

Ask a Pro


With Dr. Cole Kreofsky, Radiation Oncologist

Q: I just finished up treatment for colon cancer last month.  I’m wondering when I’m considered a survivor?

A: An individual diagnosed with cancer is considered a survivor from the moment of diagnosis through the balance of their life. Cancer survivorship is the experience of living with, through, and beyond cancer. Today, more people than ever are surviving cancer because of better prevention, early detection, and treatments. As a result, more attention is being placed on the long term adjustment of patients and their families to the physical, emotional, and practical impacts of a cancer diagnosis. Having cancer is often one of the most stressful experiences in a person’s life. In response to these needs, many clinical programs that attend to the needs of patients are referred to as ‘support groups’.

The Bismarck Cancer Center and the surrounding areas, offer multiple groups for survivors and their loved ones to help you through your cancer journey. For a complete list of cancer support groups in your area, go to or call (701)-222-6100.

Tips to drink more water

Tips to drink more water

Your body is about 70% water, and drinking enough of it is vital for optimal health. While everyone knows that it’s essential to stay hydrated, doing so can be challenging at times.

Here are a few of my favorite tips to drink more water.

Set a daily goal – If you’re a goal-driven person, set a daily goal, or challenge someone to see who can meet their goals throughout a week. 

Merely setting a goal or having some friendly competition can be motivating and make you more likely to make positive hydration changes that will last. It can also help to record your progress, which can keep you motivated to achieve your goal, beat the competition, and make drinking water a habit. 

Drink one glass of water before each meal – A simple way to increase your water intake is to make a habit of drinking one glass of water before each meal.

If you eat three meals per day, this adds 3 cups to your daily water intake, and sometimes your body may mistake feelings of thirst for hunger. Before eating, you should drink a glass of water to help determine whether you are feeling true hunger.

Drink one glass of water per hour at work, or while working from home – If you work a standard 8-hour workday, drinking a glass of water each hour you’re at work adds 8 cups to your daily water intake.

Fill up your water bottle as soon as you start your workday, and at the top of every hour, take time to drink some water. This will help you reach your daily goals with little trouble.  

Sip throughout the day – Sipping on water consistently throughout the day is another easy way to help you meet your fluid goals. Reaching for a sip of water regularly will keep your mouth from getting dry and may even help keep your breath fresher.

 Eat more foods high in water – Another simple way to get more water is to eat more foods that are high in water. Pack these foods as snacks or work them into your meals. 

Fruits and vegetables that are particularly high in water:

  • Lettuce: 96% water
  • Celery: 95% water
  • Zucchini: 95% water
  • Cabbage: 92% water
  • Watermelon: 91% water
  • Cantaloupe: 90% water
  • Honeydew melon: 90% water

In addition to their high fluid content, these fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote your overall health.

Drink one glass of water when you wake up and before bed –An easy way to boost your water intake is to simply drink one glass when you wake up and another before you go to bed. 

A glass of cold water in the morning may help wake you up and boost your alertness. Who couldn’t use that?

Drinking water before bed can keep you from waking up with a dry mouth and bad breath. However, it might make you get up in the middle of the night, so you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of this tip.

The bottom line – Adequate water intake is essential to good health. The National Academy of Medicine estimates that most people need 90–125 ounces of fluid per day, including fluid from water, other beverages, and food.

It can be challenging to drink water habitually, especially with busy schedules and workdays. But you can change that around by choosing some of these simple tips to boost your daily water intake and strive to be healthier with minimal effort.  

BCCF Transportation Assistance

BCCF Transportation Assistance

Kristina and her son, Payson

BCCF Transportation Assistance

It was hard enough to deal with the news that she had breast cancer, but driving back and forth every day from Dickinson to Bismarck for the treatment Kristina Overlie needed, would be a financial burden for her family. She was still working part-time throughout her radiation therapy, so staying at the Bismarck Cancer Center’s patient apartments weren’t an option. “I was only working 1/2 days so I wasn’t receiving my full paycheck,” said Kristina, “I’m not sure I could have afforded to drive back and forth without gas cards from the Bismarck Cancer Center.”

Whether you can get to your cancer treatment because of cost, shouldn’t be a hurdle for those going through treatment. The extra costs of transportation for cancer treatment or a loss of family income may make it hard for families to pay their mortgage or rent on time. All of these trips take time and require money to pay for the gasoline. That’s why the Bismarck Cancer Center Foundation Transportation Assistance Program exists. The Foundation provides those going through cancer treatment at the Bismarck Cancer Center with gas cards to pay a portion of the fuel needed to get to treatment. “Receiving the gas cards helped me tremendously with the expense of driving from Dickinson to Bismarck every day for radiation treatment,” said Kristina, “I appreciate all the help I received.”

To make a donation to the Bismarck Cancer Center Foundation to help with transportation needs and other patient support services visit: or call 701-222-6100 for more information.

Sun Savvy Coloring Contest

Sun Savvy Coloring Contest

Bismarck Cancer Center

Coloring Contest & Art Show

We are looking for new ways to brighten our patient waiting area & clinic while providing a fun project for individuals & families. Please join us for the #bcccoloringforcancer coloring contest. 


  •  All ages can participate! Please submit the artists name and age with the artwork.
  • Share a photo of the coloring page and message on social media with #bcccoloringforcancer, email it to, or mail it to the Bismarck Cancer Center, 500 N 8th Street, Bismarck ND 58501
  • The Bismarck Cancer Center will print the artwork and hang them in the waiting room and around the clinic for our patients and staff to enjoy.
  • There is no deadline.
  • If you wish, provide a short message for our patients and/or staff and we’ll use your words for motivation during this time of social distancing and change.
  • If you would like coloring pages mailed to you, send your name, mailing address, and number of pages requested to: 

Download coloring pages

Download and print out the coloring page of your choice. Write your name on the page and email or mail it to the Bismarck Cancer Center. 

Location: 500 N 8th Street, Bismarck ND 58501

Telephone: (701)222-6100


Coloring contest gallery coming soon!

How to spot skin cancer

How to spot skin cancer

How to Spot Skin Cancer

By the American Cancer Society

Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer. If you know what to look for, you can spot warning signs of skin cancer early. Finding it early, when it’s small and has not spread, makes skin cancer much easier to treat. Some doctors and other health care professionals include skin exams as part of routine health check-ups. Many doctors also recommend that you check your own skin about once a month. Look at your skin in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror. Use a hand-held mirror to look at areas that are hard to see.


Use the “ABCDE rule” to look for some of the common signs of melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer:

One part of a mole or birthmark doesn’t match the other.

The spot is larger than ¼ inch across – about the size of a pencil eraser – although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.

The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.


The mole is changing in size, shape, or color. Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are more common than melanomas, but they are usually very treatable.

The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.

Both basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, or cancers, usually grow on parts of the body that get the most sun, such as the face, head, and neck. But they can show up anywhere

Basal cell carcinomas: what to look for:

  • Flat, firm, pale or yellow areas, similar to a scar
  • Raised reddish patches that might be itchy
  • Small translucent, shiny, pearly bumps that are pink or red and which might have blue, brown, or black areas
  • Pink growths with raised edges and a lower area in their center, which might have abnormal blood vessels spreading out like the spokes of a wheel
  • Open sores (that may have oozing or crusted areas) and which don’t heal, or heal and then come back

Squamous cell carcinomas: what to look for:

  • Rough or scaly red patches, which might crust or bleed
  • Raised growths or lumps, sometimes with a lower area in the center
  • Open sores (that may have oozing or crusted areas) and which don’t heal, or heal and then come back
  • Wart-like growths 

Not all skin cancers look like these descriptions, though. Point out anything you’re concerned about to your doctor, including:

  • Any new spots
  • Any spot that doesn’t look like others on your body
  • Any sore that doesn’t heal
  • Redness or new swelling beyond the border of a mole
  • Color that spreads from the border of a spot into surrounding skin
    Itching, pain, or tenderness in an area that doesn’t go away or goes away then comes back
  • Changes in the surface of a mole: oozing, scaliness, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump
Being Sun Savvy

Being Sun Savvy

Sun Safety 

May is sun safety awareness month and the sun is finally shining! As you head outdoors to enjoy it, be mindful. The American Cancer Society estimates that around 230 people in North Dakota will be diagnosed this year with a cancer that is almost totally preventable – melanoma. We all know the primary cause of skin cancer is too much sun exposure.

The median age of diagnosis of melanoma is about 50. Of those individuals diagnosed, melanoma may or may not have been the primary cancer. Women age 49 and under are more likely to develop melanoma than any other cancer except breast and thyroid. Your risk increases if you have a family or personal history of skin cancer. So, melanoma and skin cancer survivors need to be mindful of that history and limit sun exposure.

People also need to know there is no safe amount of indoor tanning, and the “pre-vacation” indoor tan is neither a safe nor recommended approach to sun safety. Even a little bit of tanning bed use increases your risk of skin cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced stricter rules on tanning beds, including warning labels stating that they shouldn’t be used by anyone under age 18. Also, one application of sunscreen at the beginning of the day isn’t sufficient for all-day wear. You should reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or getting wet. And, using sunscreen isn’t a ticket to seek out more sun exposure. It’s part of a multi-pronged approach to moderate sun exposure.

Sun Savvy Tips to Remember:

  1. Limit sun exposure. Seek shade when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., or plan outdoor activities around those times.
  2. Apply sunscreen. Use a sunscreen that is labeled broad spectrum. This means it covers both types of the sun’s dangerous rays, UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen also should be at least SPF 30 and water-resistant. Apply sunscreen liberally every two hours and cover exposed areas of your body.
  3. Wear protective clothing. This includes a long- sleeve shirt, wide-brim hat and sunglasses. Many companies even sell clothing with built-in ultraviolet protection. If you’re near water, sand or snow, be mindful. The sun can reflect off those surfaces and burn or damage your skin.
  4. Don’t use indoor tanning beds.

Also, try to check your skin monthly, using the ABCDEs of melanoma guide:
Asymmetry – the shape of one half doesn’t match the other
Border – edges are uneven
Color – shades of black, brown, or red
Diameter – larger than 6 mm or 1/4 inch
Evolving – has changed in size, shape, color or appearance. It’ll help you get to know your skin and spot any areas of concern right away.

Remember, moderation can go a long way. It doesn’t have to be a black or white decision, but tailor your daily practices to embrace skin cancer prevention.

Grocery Shopping and Food Delivery Tips during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Grocery Shopping and Food Delivery Tips during the COVID-19 Pandemic

 by Amanda Ihmels, Oncology Dietician, Bismarck Cancer Center

As we navigate these stressful times, many are wondering how to safely shoporder, and prepare food to minimize transmission of the novel coronavirus. While there is no published evidence of contracting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from touching food that came in contact with the virus due to coughing or sneezing from an infected person, the virus causing COVID-19 can survive on surfaces and objects for a certain amount of time. This is the reason that we are strongly encouraged to wash our hands regularly, especially after touching frequently handled objects such as door knobs or handles. Most important, the primary method of transmitting COVID-19 is droplet spread from being close to an infected person, so social distancing is the most important way to reduce your risks.

Although we do not have evidence regarding specific dietary factors that can reduce risk of acute infections like COVID-19, we do know that eating a healthy diet, being physical active, and getting enough sleep are critical to keeping our immune system strong. Good nutrition is crucial for health, particularly in times when the immune system might need to fight back. Limited access to fresh foods may make it hard to continue eating a healthy and varied diet, and can lead to an increased consumption of processed foods with extra sugar and salt.

With all the uncertainties, we want to offer some strategies and resources to help maintain some of these practices. Do what you can, and try to have some fun along the way! The COVID-19 health crisis is creating a range of individual impacts, from food access issues, income disruptions, and emotional distress.

Grocery shopping

  • The FDA recommends four steps for safely dealing with food: clean, separate, cook, and chill. These are standard food safety guidelines. Clean produce before preparing to cook it or eat it raw. Separate raw meats from produce and ready to eat foods. Cook and reheat foods to appropriate temperatures. And lastly, chill/freeze perishable foods.
  • Plan ahead. Make a shopping list to maximize your panty, refrigerator and freezer space and to reduce how often you need to shop. Plan to visit the store during off peak hours and minimize your time in the store. Get in and get out as fast as you can.
  • If possible, order groceries online for pick up or delivery. Many stores are offering these services for free or with minimal purchase requirements.
  • Use hand sanitizer before entering the store and after leaving the store. Wear a non-medical face covering/mask once leaving your vehicle.
  • Wipe down the cart or basket prior to using it. As noted, coronaviruses can remain on hard surfaces such as steel and plastic, so these are the highest risk surfaces to touch. Many stores are cleaning their carts and providing wipes for you to wipe down carts/baskets.
  • Continue to social distance while shopping. By maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet as much as possible while shopping. Avoid sections of the store/aisles that have many people in that area. Wait for others to get their item and leave before you enter.  
  • Consider using self-checkout, this reduces you and the employee’s exposure.
  • Handwashing remains a critical step in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and should be done often. After returning home and before preparing or eating food, wash your hands thoroughly with clean water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  • COVID-19 is an ‘enveloped virus’, meaning that it is covered in an oily membrane. Fortunately, plain soap is very effective at disrupting the oil on surfaces, and water is effective at removing and rinsing away the virus.

    Food delivery and takeout meals

    • Ordering takeout or delivery meals supports local businesses that is now their only source of income. Consider looking for local fruits/vegetables from local growers and meats, chicken and eggs from local ranchers/butchers. Many have pick up series available.
    • Food service establishments and delivery services should be following local health departments’ guidelines on food safety and regular screening of employees for COVID-19 symptoms. Many establishments now offer food deliveries with minimal contact, such as prepaying with a credit card over the phone, food being carried to a car for pickup, or food being left on the doorstep. According to the CDC, COVID-19 is not likely to be transmitted through food itself. Any risk would more likely come from close contact with the worker delivering the food. Once receiving the meal, transfer the meal from its packaging onto a plate, discard the packaging, and wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
    • Request that supermarket food deliveries be left on your doorstep and follow general food safety guidelinesfor handling food.
    • When ordering takeout consider looking for healthier options. Meals that have vegetables or fruits as sides, avoid foods that have been fried and look for foods that have been grilled or roasted are great options.