Posts tagged ‘cancer survivors’
Cancer and other life-threatening illnesses can be overwhelming experiences for adults. For children, who lack the life experience and context to put their diagnosis in perspective, the treatment and follow-up can be especially isolating. City of Hope’s youngest patients recently got a chance to overcome that isolation.
More than 1,700 guests — City of Hope’s pediatric patients and survivors, plus their families — gathered on City of Hope’s Duarte campus for a special celebration of life, complete with kids, adults, doctors and nurses, all of whom understand the impact of treatment for cancer and other diseases.
The “Pacific Paradise”-themed pediatric picnic featured carnival-style games, comic artists, a face-painting booth, themed play zones, performances, and special appearances by cast members from Disney Channel’s comedy series “K.C. Undercover” and “Girl Meets World.” Festivities even included a “City of Hope’s Got Talent” variety show featuring pediatric cancer survivors.
Most important, the picnic gave patients and their families the chance to have a good time with other patients and families who had experienced, or were still experiencing, the treatment journey. It also gave patients a chance to connect with their doctors, nurses and other health care providers in a nonclinical environment. » Continue Reading
As cancer treatments advance and outcomes improve, so does the ability to help survivors adjust to post-treatment life. Here, Joanne Mortimer, M.D., vice chair of medical oncology and director of the Women’s Cancers Program at City of Hope, explains how survivors can cope and, ideally, thrive.
1. Communicate your concerns
Cancer patients are worried about a lot of things, and superior treatment addresses the whole patient, not just the tumor. City of Hope launches that superior treatment through the use of Support Screen, a biopsychosocial questionnaire that “identifies the variety of problems patients have in addition to cancer,” Mortimer said. Virtually all patients worry about dying, and the pain of cancer, but some also worry about the effect on their finances, their fertility, how they will manage transportation to the treatment clinic …
Support Screen is administered through the supportive care program, whose social workers are trained to tame the elephant in the room: emotion.
“Patients are emotional about their disease,” Mortimer said, “and talking to a doctor when you’re emotional isn’t always the best use of the limited time physicians have.” The questionnaires are processed in real time, so by the time the patient enters the exam room, the doctor has been emailed with its results, and knows the patient’s concerns.
2. Develop your powers of perspective
The emotion of cancer can be overwhelming, but it can be disarmed somewhat by knowing how the human mind responds. Mortimer has defined three stages common among people diagnosed with cancer: » Continue Reading
The best measure of success in the fight against cancer is in lives saved and families intact, in extra days made special simply because they exist.
Yuman Fong, M.D., chair of the Department of Surgery at City of Hope, understands what precedes that special awareness. When cancer strikes, one minute a person may feel healthy and young, he says, and in the next, they’re wondering how many years they have left.
In those situations, expertise matters. Commitment to research, knowledge of new therapies, unrelenting dedication to quality and improvement all play a role in the best possible cancer care. City of Hope has those factors. But the best measure of cancer care is cancer outcomes – and City of Hope has those, too.
“For a number of different reasons, [the holiday season] is stressful for a lot of people, and adding an illness or treatment to that can be a real challenge,” said Natalie Schnaitmann, L.C.S.W., director of operations at City of Hope’s Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center, in the video above.
The holidays come with the time- and energy-consuming tasks of shopping, decorating and cooking, Schnaitmann said, and cancer patients and survivors may feel pressured into trying to seem festive as well.
But this can further exacerbate stress’ impact on their lives, interfering with the healing process and leading to actual physical symptoms. These can include the inability to fall or stay asleep, physical aches and pains, and an elevated pulse or blood pressure.
Thankfully, Schnaitmann said, many tools and strategies can reduce stress — and its impact — during the holidays. She suggested:
- First, gauge one’s stress level. One of the first things a patient or survivor should do is recognize when he or she is becoming stressed so that the burden of stress can be controlled. Although stress’ impact will vary among individuals, Schnaitmann said, common symptoms include trouble sleeping, unexplained aches and pains, and increased feelings of irritability, anxiety or depression.
- Prioritize holiday rituals. Patients and survivors should consider forgoing some of the less-important holiday traditions and events to avoid becoming overburdened. “To reduce the impact of stress during the holidays, patients and survivors should look at the holidays in a more realistic way,” Schnaitmann said.
- Delegate tasks. “Cancer treatment might be a full-time job for [patients] … and an incredibly important thing for them may be to share the responsibilities,” Schnaitmann said. This includes enlisting family and friends to help with holiday shopping, gift wrapping, preparing food or putting up the decorations.
- Take a breath. When overwhelmed with stress, Schnaitmann said, patients and survivors should take a moment for deep, slow, concentrated breathing. “What we learned from behavioral scientists is that the brain cannot be anxious if the body is calm,” Schnaitmann said.
Finally, Schnaitmann encourages patients and survivors to contact their health-care providers for support in handling holiday stress. The Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center offers a variety of resources to help patients reduce or cope with stress, including reading materials, literature, support groups and professional services.
The Breakthroughs blog recently presented the story and advice of head and neck cancer survivor Kurt Deetz.
That post told of the helicopter pilot’s initial fears, his determination to remain positive through the difficulties of treatment and how he overcame cancer with help from City of Hope.
Now, in a Cancer Journeys podcast, Deetz talks more about the mindset that got him through treatment.
He also reflects on the importance of connecting with your medical team. He reveals how cancer changed his life for the better. And he expands on his previous advice for cancer patients.