Posts tagged ‘Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center’
Cancer patients treated with chemotherapy often experience side effects from the toxic compounds – the most common effects being nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Further, about 20 to 40 percent of patients who receive a category of chemotherapies known as neurotoxins can experience a painful condition known as chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.
This condition, caused by chemotherapy-induced nerve damage, can last months to years after chemotherapy treatment. Now, researchers from a national collaboration of hospitals and cancer centers have found that the antidepressant duloxetine – sold under the name Cymbalta – can ease such pain if given during the first five weeks of treatment. Their findings were published online Wednesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Duloxetine is already approved for use in treating diabetes-induced peripheral neuropathy. Researchers hypothesized that the drug could have a similar effect on chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. The study authors reported: “Among patients with painful chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, the use of duloxetine compared with placebo for 5 weeks resulted in greater reduction in pain.”
That’s good news to Carin van Zyl, M.D., a palliative and pain specialist in City of Hope’s Department of Supportive Care, who commented on the study in an interview with MedPage Today.
Continue reading “Cymbalta can help manage pain from chemotherapy, study finds” »
Doctors may specialize soon after leaving medical school, but they all possess basic clinical skills such as the ability to suture a wound or find a vein for blood draws. If two palliative care experts have their way, all physicians would have a primer on symptom relief, too.
Since being recognized as a subspecialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties in 2006, palliative care has grown rapidly in many health care systems, but this trend — paired with a mindset of using palliative medicine specialists to handle everything related to symptom management — can be problematic, according to Timothy E. Quill, M.D., and Amy P. Abernethy, M.D., president and president-elect of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.
“Although it may be theoretically optimal for palliative medicine specialists to take on all palliative aspects of care, this model has negative consequences,” they write in a perspective article in the March 6 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. This includes an insufficient supply of providers to meet demand, especially if other physicians begin to eschew basic symptom relief and psychosocial support.
Simply put, they write: “There are nowhere near enough palliative care specialists to provide all palliative care services for every very ill patient.” Continue reading “Palliative care should be part of basic care, experts say” »
The number of cancer survivors has been steadily increasing, due in part to increased awareness of symptoms, improved screenings and, of course, better treatments. There are now approximately 12 million cancer survivors in the United States, greater than the population of New York City.
But although the physical treatment eventually becomes a thing of the past, returning to a “normal” life isn’t always a cakewalk for newly minted cancer survivors. Only now are social workers, psychologists and other health-care workers turning their attention to cancer’s long-term impact. City of Hope specialists are among those leading the way.
To help survivors through the complete recovery process, the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center has partnered with Cancer Support Community and LIVESTRONG Foundation to organize a series of six weekly, interactive classes for people who have recently completed treatment.
“We have put together this program because of the questions that we have heard from new survivors,” said Linda Klein, manager of operations at the Biller Patient and Family Resource Center. “Many have a general fear of recurrence and want to know what they can do to stay healthy, and others may encounter communication and emotional issues after this life-changing experience.”
Additional concerns that survivors have focus on returning to work after cancer treatment, how to coordinate and manage follow-up care, and handling issues with health insurance, Klein said. Continue reading “City of Hope classes help smooth the transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor” »
The third in a series on getting through the holidays …
The loss of a loved one is extraordinarily painful regardless of the time of year, but the grief can seem almost impossible to bear during the holidays. Whether the death was unexpected or the result of a long illness such as cancer, those left behind aren’t focused on enjoying the holidays – they simply want to get through them.
To do so, they must acknowledge that intense grief is normal, while also keeping at least part of their mind on recovery, said Jeanelle Folbrecht, Ph.D., interim director of psychology at City of Hope’s Department of Supportive Care Medicine.
“The holidays, especially the first one after a patient’s death, can be extra tough for the grievers since it brings to mind the once-shared traditions that are permanently changed,” Folbrecht said.Grief-stricken loved ones will always feel an extra sense of sadness and loss during the holidays, Folbrecht said, but emotions that become overwhelming can lead to long-term, disabling depression.
She offers the following advice on how to mourn without being controlled by the associated grief. Continue reading “Bereavement during the holidays: 5 tips on coping with grief” »
The second in a series on getting through the holidays …
Caregiving for a cancer patient — or anyone with a serious illness — can be a full-time job for a patient’s family, friends or significant other, even under the most routine circumstances. Compound that with the activities and obligations of the holiday season, and a day’s schedule can seem Sisyphean.
But with some support, planning and self-awareness, the tasks this time of year can be manageable, says Matthew Loscalzo, L.C.S.W., Liliane Elkins Professor in Supportive Care Programs and the administrative director of the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center at City of Hope. Best of all, changes made now could lead to better coping skills in the long term, even after the holidays are over.
“There are times when caregivers feel more stressed than the patients do,” Loscalzo says. “It seems counterintuitive, but caregivers have the burden of taking care of the patients, themselves and possibly other loved ones too. So they can be more prone to the stresses brought on by holiday-related tasks and responsibilities.
The best defense against the potential burn-out is to be aware of the symptoms of being stressed, Loscalzo says. These can include:
• Fatigue and poor sleeping patterns
• Being unusually irritable or depressed
• Feeling aches and pains more frequently
• Engaging in unhealthy habits such as consuming junk food, tobacco or alcohol
The next step for caregivers, obviously, is to de-stress themselves. Loscalzo offers the following tips: Continue reading “Caregiving during the holidays: 5 ways to minimize stress” »
Health-care reform is a hot button issue of the Presidential debates, and the high cost of health care is on Americans’ minds. “Cut costs,” the pundits cry. “Trim the fat.”
You might think the human side of health care – what we call supportive care — would be the first to fall victim to the budget-slicing knife in times like these. There’s reduced reimbursement for psychology and no insurance reimbursement for supportive care professionals like clinical social workers, navigators, health educators or chaplains. What would be the incentive for a medical center to keep them on staff, other than an ethical commitment to our shared humanity?
As it turns out, beyond being “the right thing to do,” this care may cut health-care costs.
You can ease your chronic pain, lower high blood pressure and anxiety and even drop levels of stress hormones through a simple step, and it doesn’t even cost anything. All you have to do is think – or maybe stop thinking so hard.
The key is meditation.
There are lots of forms of meditation: tai chi and qi gong are meditative, and some people relax by repeating words or phrases, called mantras. Although some forms started as part of Eastern religions, meditation is not a religion itself – and many people use it just to boost their well-being.
Particularly popular among cancer patients is mindfulness meditation. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, research shows that doing this regularly can improve quality of life. In one study of cancer patients who practiced mindfulness meditation for seven weeks, nearly a third had fewer stress symptoms and nearly two thirds experienced fewer mood disturbances than patients who didn’t meditate.
City of Hope’s Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center offers meditation classes for patients throughout the year on Mondays from 2 to 3 p.m. Check out this video for a quick look at some of the techniques.
Interested? Call 626-256-4673, ext. 32273 (3CARE) or email them to reserve a spot.
If there is anyone whose spirit embodies the word indomitable, it is Michelle Gearhart-Pash. She has battled six separate occurrences of breast cancer and bested the disease every time.
Rather than retreat to her own life and avoid all talk about cancer, Gearhart-Pash has become a shoulder to lean on, a person to talk to and an advocate for others as the chair of City of Hope’s Patient and Family Advisory Council. That’s a group of patients and caregivers who give feedback and recommendations on City of Hope patient-care services.
“I don’t have a problem hearing someone’s story,” she says. “People ask me if they can have a friend or co-worker talk to me, and I always say ‘of course.’”
If you’re a cancer survivor in California, you’re far from alone. Nearly 1.6 million men, women and children in the state are living through and beyond cancer.
Across the U.S., nearly 13.7 million people — more than the population of Illinois — can call themselves cancer survivors. Each one of those people has a story. Some are stories of victory, while others are chronicles of endurance. Sometimes they’re tales of pain and lives upended. Whatever a survivor’s story, chances are it’s different from life “B.C.” — before cancer.
Every year, City of Hope patients come together at the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center for Cancer Survivors Day to celebrate their stories. As they talk about their journeys, a word often heard from them is “gift.”
Yes, as in “cancer is a gift.”
When you’ve got cancer, you’ll do everything to fight it. A national study showed that for two of every five cancer patients, “everything” includes mind-body therapies.
Should science-based cancer centers offer these therapies despite little evidence, though? Scientific proof behind many spiritual and holistic health techniques is spotty, but research is starting to point out roles for yoga, acupuncture and meditation. Others are under study.
Patients’ demands for these therapies are pushing them into the mainstream. They’re so popular that the National Institutes of Health started a center to investigate these practices.
And leading research and medical centers are listening. City of Hope is among them.
It not only has one of the first centers focused on “whole-person” care for patients and their families, but also caring staff members like Daisy Rivera, L.C.S.W. , who practices yoga, sound therapy and Reiki.
As a clinical social worker, Rivera sees patients and families through the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center. The center offers yoga and meditation, as well as music therapy. The center also has sponsored research projects.
She’s taken it a step further, getting training in several disciplines so she can offer a different sort of healing for those who want it. For Rivera, holistic therapies fill an important need: “These techniques provide other options when our words fail.”
Ultimately, health-care professionals who work closely with cancer patients often take a common-sense approach to mind-body-spirit therapies. If these therapies pose little risk of harm and can potentially improve quality of life, then they may meet everyone’s needs — and become a valuable part of treatment.