Posts tagged ‘supportive care’

Geriatric oncology nurse Peggy Burhenn: Older adults need special care

January 20, 2015 | by

Age is the single greatest risk factor overall for cancer; our chances of developing the disease rise steeply after age 50. For geriatric oncology nurse Peggy Burhenn, the meaning is clear: Cancer is primarily a geriatric condition. That’s why she is forging inroads in the care of older adults with cancer.

Nurse Peggy Burhenn

Geriatric oncology nurse Peggy Burhenn at City of Hope, has received the 2014 Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse of the Year Award.

Burhenn, M.S., C.N.S., A.O.C.N.S., is a professional practice leader in geriatric oncology in the Department of Clinical Practice and Professional Education at City of Hope. She focuses on the needs of older adults with cancer, researching better treatments for them and teaching other clinicians the best approach to caring for this important population.

Her innovative work and excellence in clinical care recently earned her the Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse of the Year Award from the Greater Los Angeles Oncology Nursing Society. The honor adds to a list of accolades and achievements that includes the Margo McCaffery Excellence in Pain Management Award and leadership roles on the National Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Older Adult Oncology Expert Panel and the International Society for Geriatric Oncology.

Burhenn earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from the University of Illinois in Chicago. She joined City of Hope in 2011 after nearly a decade as a nurse educator in the biotechnology industry and as a nurse oncologist at a private hematology-oncology practice. She said her work with older patients began early in her career, sparked to some degree by her own parents’ experience with aging. » Continue Reading

SupportScreen app reaches 10,000 patients

November 6, 2014 | by

Talking about their cancer and their needs can be difficult for some patients. City of Hope’s SupportScreen makes that conversation easier for patients.

Patients faced with a cancer diagnosis have a lot to take in. It’s no surprise that many need help airing their concerns to their care teams. That’s why a City of Hope team developed SupportScreen, to enable patients to communicate their needs better.

Last week, the tablet-based app hit an important milestone, screening its 10,000th patient.

The achievement comes at an important time, as new accreditation standards go into effect in January 2015 from two important organizations charged with evaluating cancer care providers — the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The standards focus on screening for psychosocial distress, unmet needs and other psychosocial barriers to care, which SupportScreen was designed to address.

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Practical advice for couples confronting breast cancer

October 3, 2014 | by

One person receives the breast cancer diagnosis, but the cancer affects the entire family.

couple therapy

The Couples Coping with Cancer Together program focuses on good communication and problem-solving skills for couples confronting breast cancer.

Couples, in particular, can find the diagnosis and treatment challenging, especially if they have traditional male/female communication styles.

“Though every individual is unique, men and women often respond differently during times of stress,”  said Courtney Bitz, L.C.S.W., a social worker in the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center at City of Hope. “This is where men and women can learn from and build upon the strengths of their partner and work together as a team. For many couples, the cancer experience can be an opportunity to grow closer to one another.”

Bitz offers these specific and practical behavior tips. They’ve emerged from the wisdom of past patients and partners, from research and from  clinical experience: » Continue Reading

Diet during cancer treatment: Tips on managing appetite and weight loss

August 11, 2014 | by

Appetite loss may be common during cancer treatment, lasting throughout your therapy or only occasionally, but it can be managed.

snacks and cancer treatment

Keep snacks close at hand during cancer treatment in order to take advantage of  the moments when you feel like eating.

Below are tips from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) that can help you keep your weight up and, in doing so, keep your body well-nourished. (See the end of this article for a delicious chocolate-avocado smoothie recipe that’s perfectly in line with these recommendations.) » Continue Reading

Diet during cancer treatment: Tips on avoiding infections from food

August 3, 2014 | by

Cancer is hard enough on the immune system, and chemotherapy takes an additional toll. This double blow to the immune system means cancer patients are more likely to develop infections than people not fighting cancer.

food preparation for cancer patients

Everyday foods can pose a special threat to cancer patients. One tip to make food safer for people undergoing cancer treatment: Use separate cutting boards for meat and fruits/vegetables.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one out of every 10 cancer patients receiving chemotherapy develops an infection that requires a hospital visit.

Sometimes, infections come from foods that people without cancer could consume with few concerns. For that reason, cancer patients or the people preparing food for them should take extra precautions when handling food. » Continue Reading

Each day is special for cancer survivors (w/VIDEO)

July 16, 2014 | by

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.

» Continue Reading

Parents can boost academic performance of childhood cancer survivors

July 10, 2014 | by

Survival rates for childhood cancer have improved tremendously over the past few decades, but postcancer care hasn’t always kept up. More children than ever are now coping with long-term complications and side effects caused by their disease and treatment — one of those being learning difficulties.

City of Hope research shows parent intervention may help childhood cancer survivors improve their performance in school.

City of Hope research shows parent intervention may help childhood cancer survivors improve their performance in school.

A new study, published last month in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology and led by City of Hope researchers, suggests that parents can reduce the impact of cancer and cancer treatment on their children’s academic performance.

“It is possible to improve the child’s adaptive functioning in his or her daily life,” said lead author and neuropsychologist Sunita Patel, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Population Sciences and Department of Supportive Care Medicine at City of Hope. “For the educational realm, parents can facilitate this by helping the child establish good study strategies and to teach the child that learning requires active engagement and effort.”

For the study, researchers analyzed the academic performance of childhood cancer survivors who had cancer treatment affecting their central nervous system. This group of survivors tends to experience long-term cognitive side effects, making it harder for them to retain information in school.

» Continue Reading

Musicians On Call brings healing power of music to patients

June 27, 2014 | by
Singer Gavin DeGraw meets patient Robert Hughes at the launch of the Musicians On Call Jason Pollack Bedside Performance Program. Photo credit: Andy Featherston

Musician Gavin DeGraw meets patient Robert Hughes at the launch of the Musicians On Call Jason Pollack Bedside Performance Program. Photo credit: Andy Featherston

Music makes a difference – in patient mood and in patient healing. To that end, patient care at City of Hope now has a special new program called the Musicians On Call Jason Pollack Bedside Performance Program, which brings live, in-room performances to patients undergoing treatment or unable to leave their hospital beds.

As a comprehensive cancer center committed to treating the whole patient, City of Hope understands that music can lift the human spirit and enhance treatment programs. Studies have shown that live music soothes hospital patients by lowering blood pressure and reducing anxiety. For cancer patients in need of an emotional boost, soothing music or an upbeat singalong can be especially powerful. » Continue Reading

Healthcare Decisions Day: ‘Advance directive’ is how you say ‘my way’

April 11, 2014 | by

Few decisions are more important than those involving health care, and few decisions can have such lasting impact, not only on oneself but on relatives and loved ones.

advance directives for health care

Advance directives for health care let you make your wishes known, while you’re able to do so. If you haven’t done so already, National Healthcare Decisions Day is the perfect time to do it.

Those choices, especially, should be made in advance – carefully, deliberately, free of pain and stress, and with much weighing of values and priorities. That’s the purpose of National Healthcare Decisions Day, to help people make those decisions while they’re still able to do so and then to make their wishes, or directives, known.

The alternative is, ultimately, to force distraught loved ones and well-meaning health care workers to guess at what the incapacitated you would have wanted. They don’t always get it right.

So on Wednesday, April 16, observe National Healthcare Decisions Day by assessing your values, deciding on the kind of care that you want and choosing your own way. That means creating your own advance care directives. » Continue Reading

Talking about advance directives needn’t be hard. Make it a game

April 10, 2014 | by

Using a card game to make decisions about health care, especially as those decisions relate to the end of life, would seem to be a poor idea. It isn’t.

advance directives

The GoWish Game can help family members talk about what’s important to them at the end of life.

The GoWish Game makes those overwhelming, but all-important decisions not just easy, but natural. On each card of the 36-card deck is listed what seriously ill, even dying, people often say are most important to them.

Some samples:

  • To have my family prepared for my death
  • To remember personal accomplishments
  • To say goodbye to important people in my life
  • To maintain my dignity
  • To have my family with me
  • To know how my body will change
  • To prevent arguments by making sure my family knows what I want
  • To pray
  • To die at home
  • To not be connected to machines
  • To be mentally aware

Dawn Gross, M.D., Ph.D., the Arthur M. Coppola Family Chair in Supportive Care Medicine at City of Hope, is a fan of the game and, more specifically, the conversations it creates among family members. » Continue Reading