Maui Cancer resources: West Side healers volunteer for workshops and online Survivors Group | News, Sports, Jobs


From diagnosis, through treatment to wellness, the Maui Cancer Resources team, including volunteers from Lahaina, helps support Maui County cancer survivors to achieve better health outcomes. Pictured (from left) are Dr. Bridget Bongaard, Carl Powell and Claudia Micco. PHOTO BY CINDY SCHUMACHER.

WEST MAUI — Lahaina residents Claudia Micco, her long-standing colleague Carl Powell, and Dena Jackson all felt called to do volunteer work with Dr. Bridget Bongaard, a board-certified internist and Maui Cancer Resources (MCR) founder and medical director.

A Maui-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit, MCR is dedicated to helping cancer survivors transform their lives to a new and better level of health and wellness while undergoing their cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Currently, Bongaard works alongside Micco, Powell, Jackson and other Maui experts to provide specialty one-day workshops called Growing Stronger, as well as offering an online Survivors Group program. Both gathers teach clients how to rebuild themselves and grow stronger in multiple ways, making their cancer journey a more positive experience.

MCR identifies areas of need for cancer patients and provides advocacy, collaboration and education support to meet those needs. Bongaard’s long-term vision, a permanent Cancer Support Center, would be a facility to grow outreach services resulting in major positive changes in quality of life and improved delivery of cancer care in Maui County. The center would work with oncology practitioners to ensure seamless execution of the prescribed treatment plans to achieve maximum outcomes in therapy and quality of life for both the patient and their loved ones.

“MCR continues to expand services for cancer support care,” said Bongaard. “We have a great collaboration of community professionals that are volunteering with MCR. We provide free professional support services to any Maui County resident suffering the ravaging effects of cancer. Programs include patient navigation and advocacy, cancer-related treatment symptom management, integrative oncology consultations, counseling, support groups, education and transportation assistance.

“MCR also holds a Survivor Group program every two weeks run by West Sider Dena Jackson, a certified life coach, massage therapist and cancer survivor. Our Growing Strong workshop series, led by Maui professionals — including Lahaina resident Claudia Micco and Carl Powell — are a place for people to meet, share their stories and empower each other to overcome challenges.”

Micco, a West Side health and fitness expert, life coach and trauma-sensitive trainer, combines the best of mind and body fitness. Globally known for her personal work in positivity, helping to break old destructive habits, she is a great asset for MCR’s Growing Stronger workshop series.

“It is important to build a positive attitude toward yourself, which translates into more energy, self-confidence and faster transformation of your physical body,” Micco said. “The best gift you can give yourself is self-love on every level. When you are happy, your life works better. In my job, I cheer others on to achieve the health and wellness they deserve.”

Micco’s depth of education and range of experience makes her an asset for MCR, where she is a frequent speaker and well-being coach in the workshops and retreats. Sharing inspiration and wisdom, she reveals how mindful movement and positive thinking decreases anxiety and depression from chronic past and recent traumatic stress.

To Micco, wellness is about making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life in all aspects of everyday living.

“I am so happy to be part of MCR and the inspirational work that Dr. Bongaard is doing to help cancer patients and survivors in Maui County,” said Micco. “Integrative Medicine, that uses the mind/body philosophy for health and wellness, brings a new way of looking at life for those who are feeling down and out. Participants begin to appreciate what they are capable of as they shift to a greater sense of well-being.”

Through her West Side business, Training with Aloha.com., Micco does online teaching with different types of modalities, including fitness, for anyone who needs help with pain, especially people who are homebound and not ambulatory. Her Lift, Stretch, and Defy instruction helps boost the body and mind, and has helped her private clients as well as MCR participants.

“I am so impressed with the work Dr. Bongaard is doing,” Micco reflected. “I wanted to help. Dr. Bongaard has an integrative method to wellness. She understands the stress-related problems, the moment-to-moment things that can happen during cancer treatment. Our team of professionals developed both an in-person and online program to help those in Maui County going through feelings of isolation during their ordeal.

“Everyone has different levels of pain. So, we teach how to go from worse to better in everyday activities. The various types of activities contribute to a total mind-body fitness experience. In addition, the community aspect of this is so important because we learn that we are not alone, and that is why I got involved. Also, the realization of a Cancer Support Center, an actual facility to do this work, would be a dream come true.”

Powell, a professional healer for over 42 years, teaches those challenged with cancer, or any health issues, how to rebuild themselves and grow stronger through multiple integrative healing techniques, including yoga, tai chi, qigong and more. Recently, he opened The Healing Garden to help clients find the much-needed inner strength to handle a medical crisis as well as day-to-day living.

Powell offers a comprehensive immersion program that gives skills to mend and restore.

“During the pandemic, I worked with Kaiser Permanente and HMSA teaching Silver and Fit, senior online classes,” Powell explained. “At The Healing Garden, I give in-person and online instruction on integrative healing”the inside and outside work. I find my work with Dr. Bongaard, Claudia and the professional team at the cancer workshops helps people find peace within themselves, which in turn helps their healing process. My personal goal is to make it easier for everyone to pause and find peace, and then determine where to go from there.”

Longtime Lahaina resident Dena Jackson, Oneloa Massage Therapist and Life Coach, noted, “In my private business I help clients diffuse the emotional and painful parts of their circumstances, and help them get back on the track towards healing and positivity goals by working out issues. It means a lot to me to be able to volunteer my coaching expertise with MCR. The true essence of what we do empowers and inspires those who have the cancer challenge in their life.”

Jackson met Dr. Bongaard at an MCR retreat in Napili, which she learned about through an article in the Lahaina News. As a cancer survivor, she is thankful she attended that event. She now volunteers time to MCR, where she helps identify cancer-related stress issues in others and develops strategies for prevention and resilience.

“This is such an amazing group,” Jackson shared. “They create a wonderful community — a club you never thought you wanted to be in, but once in that circumstance, you are so happy for it. You are sitting there with all these people who are going through similar experiences, and you can talk with these people honestly. Our online bi-weekly Survivors Group program is equally important and helpful. I volunteer to share my own experience to help others. Several people from these groups call me when they need extra assistance in their daily lives. Most of all, it is a community of people helping people, a huge success.

“The beauty of the survivor online support group is MCR’s dedication to lift up, support and champion one another. This group is about empowerment in a time when we are the most vulnerable. Cancer is a lonely disease, and you need to count on yourself, your strength and your perseverance to get through. It is a personal challenge, and one where you can decide just how you are going to handle it. This is when you really get to know yourself. With a group like MCR, we support each other with encouragement to keep going and growing strong. The group is composed of people on all different parts of the journey, sharing experiences and giving nurturing tips with honesty. Although you never expected to be part of such a group, you are grateful for it now that the situation has arrived. All are welcome, all are accepted, and all are supported,” she explained.

For information on upcoming workshops, go online to www.mauicancerresources.org.


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