Changing the Face of Cancer Care February 18, 2013Posted by mcleodcancercenter in Uncategorized.
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The face of cancer care is changing as a result of a desire by survivors to be known as more than a medical record number, a recipient of treatments or a cancer patient. It is the acknowledgement and realization from the cancer care community that is bringing about this change. These medical professionals including myself understand how cancer takes a toll that extends well beyond the conclusion of treatment
As a team, we are engaged in learning about cancer care plans and how they will be used by patients. Our goal is to provide patients with information about their treatments and follow-up care, survivorship and psychosocial support programs, nurse navigation support to assist patients with understanding their treatment options, cancer rehabilitation, etc.
McLeod sits at the cusp of advancing its cancer program and making it more meaningful to our patients and community. It is exciting to be a part of these plans/changes in the world of cancer care. In the spirit of providing patients with additional healing opportunities, the McLeod Cancer Program recently entered into a partnership with Central Carolina Technical College to offer the first school and hospital clinical rotations for massage therapy students in the state of South Carolina. In January, these students began offering hand and arm massage once a week to our chemotherapy infusion patients during their treatment appointments.
Massage is an evidence based program in cancer care and research has shown the benefits to cancer patients. For me, as a cancer survivor, the beauty of massage is best stated by Tracy Walton, a researcher, award winning educator, and specialist in massage and cancer care, “by touching a body, we touch every event it has experienced. For a few brief moments we touch all of a patient’s stories in our hands. We witness someone’s experience of their own flesh, through some of the most powerful means possible: the contact of our hands, the acceptance of the body without judgment, and the occasional listening ear. With these gestures, we reach across the isolation of the human experience and hold another person’s legend. In massage therapy, we show up and ask, in so many ways, what it is like to be another human being. In doing so, we build a bridge that may heal us both.”
If you would like to learn more about massage in cancer care, the following are some resources that will offer more information:
- Medicine Hands: Massage Therapy for People with Cancer
- Journal – Supportive Care in Cancer
- Touch Research Institute Studies of Massage and Cancer Patients – University of Miami School of Medicine.
Please remember the next meeting of Shelby’s Group is Thursday, February 21, 2013, at 6:00 p.m. at the McLeod Resource Center. At this meeting, we will also have a Special Guest, Kathi Miller from Summerville. She will be sharing the work of love/art she makes. Kathi is a Breast Cancer Survivor and is also Betty Anne’s cousin. In addition, Betty Anne and Betsy Johnson will share an item they have created as well.
The Promise of Hope October 9, 2012Posted by mcleodcancercenter in Uncategorized.
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Often, after meeting with a patient in my role as an Oncology Social Worker for McLeod, I walk the patient back out to the waiting room. Recently, as I was escorting a patient out I noticed that the waiting room was full of patients waiting to be seen by their oncologist. The patients were sitting there, perhaps in pain or with their blood pressure steadily rising as they waited with apprehension. They were a silent group of strangers all bound by cancer as their connection to one another. I’m sure they were wishing they could be somewhere else when suddenly the waiting room came alive.
In that space where cancer takes center stage, hope, happiness/joy, and laughter trumped cancer on this day as there in the waiting room sat two small children giving a beautiful rendition of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” These cherubs were oblivious to the fear, worry, and illness surrounding them. As they finished singing, there was applause, laughter, and calls for encores which the children gladly offered even bowing after each performance. The waiting room resonated with life, hope, and the promise that no matter what, life has a way to give us hope even in the midst of illness.
Hope can come in many ways including seeing a beautiful sunset, listening to great music, completing treatment, holding a grandchild, reading an uplifting poem, or having your hair grow back. There is hope in friendships, family, and laughter as well as in sharing a common bond. You can see hope in celebrations of birthdays and holidays, in art, in spirituality, and in the smile of a stranger.
For those of us who have been touched by cancer the promise of hope allows us not to be defined by cancer…instead we define ourselves in spite of cancer.
All My Best,
By the way, the next meeting of Shelby’s Group is Thursday, October 18, 2012, at 6:00 p.m. at the McLeod Resource Room, 927 E. Day Street. Harriet Jeffords, Director of McLeod Rehabilitation Services and a Breast Cancer Survivor, will speak to the group about the role of rehab in cancer care. Please consider joining us and remember new members are always welcome!
Helping You Navigate Prostate Cancer June 26, 2012Posted by mcleodcancercenter in Uncategorized.
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The word cancer is a Greek word for crab. The origin of the word cancer is credited to the Greek physician Hippocrates who used the term carcinos and carcinoma to describe tumors. In the Greek language, the word crab was “most likely applied to the illness because of the finger like spreading projections from cancer called to mind the shape of a crab.”
For the patient diagnosed with cancer hearing the word has little to do with the above definition. Instead, initially, it conjures an overwhelming fear of the unknown and thoughts of death. It is at this time that the patient is suddenly thrust into a world of medical appointments, tests, and decision making about treatments. It is also at this point that a patient can benefit from the support of a nurse who understands their disease and can help them navigate through their cancer treatment. As a Nurse Navigator with McLeod Cancer Services, this is the role I serve for patients diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The following are some facts about the prostate that you might find interesting:
• The prostate, although a small gland (about the size of a walnut), can sometimes cause a man serious problems.
• One out of every six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
• The good thing about prostate cancer — if there REALLY CAN BE a good thing about prostate cancer — is that if it is caught early enough (and most of the time, it is) there is a good chance it can be cured.
• The prostate gland is found only in men. However, if you are a woman who has a husband, father, grandfather, uncle, or friend who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, it still affects you, just indirectly.
In regards to the body, the prostate sits just below the bladder and directly in front of the rectum. In young men, the prostate is usually the size of a walnut, but it can grow as a man ages and can be as large as a golf ball or larger in older men. Some men, when their prostates grow larger have issues with urinating (hesitancy, urgency, flow) and obtaining and maintaining an erection.
Before a male child is born, the prostate begins to develop and continues to grow until adulthood. This growth occurs due to the male’s sex hormones, such as testosterone. Usually, the prostate grows relatively slowly as long as these hormones are still being made. Several types of cancers can be found in the prostate, but the majority of them are adenocarcinomas, cancer that occurs in the gland cells. These adenocarcinomas are slow growing; however some grow more quickly than others and can spread rapidly to other organs. Prostate cancer likes to take up residence in the bones of its host, so it will likely spread to the pelvic bones first.
Once you or someone you love has been diagnosed with prostate cancer there are decisions that need to be made in regards to treatment. There are several options one can consider when diagnosed with cancer that can be discussed with your healthcare team.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and you want more information on this disease and its treatment options, please feel free to contact me, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at (843)777-6339 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Healing Properties of Art May 16, 2012Posted by mcleodcancercenter in Uncategorized.
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In an article titled “The Healing Qualities of Artistic Expression, the Role of Creative Process and Serious Illness,” Lee Crawford, MEd, RCC, BCATR, writes about the healing role of art for patients who face a life threatening illness. She states that “the field of medicine acknowledges and supports the value of creative approaches in health and wellness for patients.” In fact, the practice of art therapy has been declared a “mind-body intervention” by the National Institutes of Health Office of Alternative Medicine (National Institute of Health 1994), Washington, DC. (Malchiodi, 1999)
The following are a couple of the highlights from this article:
- “Through art-making, a person can reveal the story of their illness, the psychosocial issues and beliefs linked to the illness, and how to cope with physiological symptoms associated with cancer.”
- “Imagery can be used to assist a patient to express emotions and the psychosocial issues of serious illness or cancer. Art making encourages a patient’s ability to cope and a means to reduce stress which may have a positive impact on the physiological progression of the disease.”
As members of Shelby’s group and other cancer survivors continue on their journey to healing both physically and emotionally, it is comforting to know that there are many proven Integrative Medicine modalities that can enhance our ability to heal and among those is art.
The next meeting of Shelby’s Group is Thursday, May 17, 2012, at the McLeod Resource Center at 6:00 p.m. We are fortunate to have as a guest presenter, Sandy Griffin, both a psychologist and an artist, who will offer us a presentation on the healing properties of art that promises to be both informative and interactive.
I hope to see you there and for those who have contemplated coming to our group at some point and have not yet come we would love to have you!
The Role of Social Work in Oncology March 13, 2012Posted by mcleodcancercenter in Uncategorized.
March is Social Work Month. In celebration of this month, I would
like to share with you the role of Social Work in Oncology. As I thought
about this subject, I remembered my first meeting with Shelby and her
comments to me after we had spoken for a while at her doctor’s office.
Shelby turned to me and said that she wished there had been a Social Worker
available to provide the emotional support and guidance she needed during
her cancer treatment and after completion of treatment. Recently, another
newly diagnosed cancer survivor came to see me at my office for some
guidance and made the same comments.
Social Workers because of their training have a unique set of skills that
in the Oncology setting enhances the care of the patient. The following is
a quote from Social Worker Kathy Gurland, LCSW, who is a Cancer Navigation
Consultant. She passionately writes about the role of Social Work in the
field of Oncology:
“This essential member of your healthcare team may be your greatest ally
when you face a diagnosis. Clinical Social Workers are licensed mental
health professionals held to high ethical standards who must pass a state
licensing exam after completing their master’s in social work (MSW) degree.
The required coursework for an MSW covers a broad theoretical foundation
and field practicum experience in a variety of settings with culturally
diverse and vulnerable populations. Oncology Social Workers, specialists
within the social work field, are clinically trained to provide diversified
support for cancer patients and their families during diagnosis, treatment,
and survivorship. They are also trained in end of life care and
Gurland goes on to say that “because cancer has an impact on every aspect
of patients’ and their loved ones’ lives, an Oncology Social Worker views
individuals in a holistic way and with a strengths perspective. They also
take into account the whole person in his or her environment and use what
is called a ‘bio- psychosocial assessment’ to identify an individual’s
needs. These needs may include but are not limited to physical, emotional,
spiritual, cultural, financial, sexual, recreational, relationship, safety,
legal, family, and caregiving.”
According to the 2007 Institute of Medicine Report “Cancer Care for the
Whole Patient,” we should all remember: “Today, it is not possible to
deliver good-quality cancer care without addressing patients’ psychosocial
health needs. And, it is your social worker who can address those needs.”
I want to take this opportunity to honor all McLeod Social Workers who at
one time or another will serve in different roles as they assist patients.
These staff members are often seen as advocates, teachers
(psycho-education), confidants, problem solvers, counselors, liaisons,
resource guides, collaborators, and consistent sources of support. The
theme for Social Work Month this year is “Social Work Matters,” so my words
of wisdom to all Social Workers at McLeod and beyond is to keep your
passion alive and always remember why you went into the field of Social
Shelby’s Group will meet this coming Thursday, March 15 at 6:00 p.m. at the
McLeod Resource Center. Please join us and bring a friend. See you there!
Shelby’s Group: Recurrence and Coping October 18, 2011Posted by mcleodcancercenter in Uncategorized.
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Recently, I had a breast cancer survivor call me as she was worried about a recurrence and questioning each and every sensation in her body. This topic has been raised and discussed in our group often as fear of recurrence evokes anxiety for all of us who have experienced cancer. We rely on our treatments to reassure us that our cancer has been sent on its way to remission.
Year ago, I recall meeting a stranger at a grocery store in Columbia. I told her how much I liked her stylish haircut (having just moved to the area and recently finished my treatments, I wanted to do something stylish with my hair as I was pleased once again that I had hair). In talking to this woman I learned that she was a five-year breast cancer survivor, and she cut and styled her own hair — something that I was not about to do! After sharing this with me, she added, “You know I had not thought about my cancer in a long time.” You may ask why I’m describing this encounter? Simply put, barring any setbacks we will be like the survivor I encountered and the fear of recurrence will no longer take center stage.
As we complete our cancer treatment, we are usually filled with a sense of relief. However, it is at this time that we may begin to feel anxious and have fears that the cancer may return. These feelings are quite normal during the first years after completing treatment. One of the keys to coping with this fear is to be aware that we are not in control of whether the cancer returns or not, but we can control how we let fear impact our daily life.
Here are some suggestions from cancer.net for coping with fear of recurrence:
- Accept that you will experience this fear and that you are not alone.
- Find a way to manage the anxiety created by the fear.
- Know that the fears lessen as time passes.
- Try not to worry alone — talk to someone, join a group, or write down your thoughts in a diary or journal. Give worry time limits for example only 10 minutes a day.
- Talk to your doctor about regular follow-up care; find out more about cancer treatment plans and summaries (previously discussed in a blog) and remember to think of yourself and your doctor as partners in charge of your care.
- Be a well informed patient and become familiar with the fact that most cancers have a predictable pattern of recurrence.
- Focus on becoming healthier: eat healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep.
- Reduce stress by enjoying time with family and friends; walking; laughing; reading a funny book or watching a wacky movie; finding humor in as many situations as possible; joining a support group; and getting rid of clutter in your life
Is this easy? No, but it is worth a try!
Just a quick reminder: Shelby’s Group meets again this Thursday, October 20, 2011, at the McLeod Resource Center at 6:00 p.m. Please consider joining us for a night of sharing with others.
Happy Birthday! September 13, 2011Posted by mcleodcancercenter in Uncategorized.
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Shelby’s Group just had a birthday! In August, we celebrated our first year as a group, and it has been a privilege for me to serve as a facilitator and to be a member of this special group of ladies.
During the past year, our members have bonded as they have shared their fears, frustrations, humor, resiliency, laughter, and support for one another as well as encouraging those new members who joined us.
We were also honored to receive interesting educational presentations by our phenomenal and talented McLeod staff. We thank again each and every one of them for taking the time to share their knowledge with us. These presenters included Ashley Atkinson, Senior Lymphedema Therapist; McLeod Oncologist Rajesh Bajaj; Radiologist Dr. Bruce White; McLeod Radiation Oncologist Dr. Rhett Spencer; Pathologist Dr. Sharon Mitchell; and McLeod Chaplain Rev. Stuart Harrell. In addition, we want to thank Denise Richbourg for sharing the American Cancer Society’s Look Good Feel Better program with us.
I also personally want to thank each group member for their commitment to making Shelby’s Group a reality and for being available for those breast cancer survivors (whether beginning their journey, being treated, or having finished treatment) in their time of need and support.
We meet again this Thursday, September 15, 2011, at the McLeod Resource Center at 6:00 p.m. Please consider joining us for a night of sharing.
Defining Cancer Survivorship June 13, 2011Posted by mcleodcancercenter in Uncategorized.
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June is National Cancer Survivorship Month and as McLeod prepares to honor survivors with its Cancer Survivor’s Day Celebration on Saturday, June 18, I thought that as a cancer “survivor” I would review the definition and information of survivorship.
Wikipedia defines a cancer survivor as “an individual with cancer of any type, current or past, who still lives.” The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship believes a person diagnosed with cancer is a survivor from the time of diagnosis and for the balance of their life.
Some people reject the term survivor as being “a narrow definition of highly variable human experiences.” Yet others believe that the “idea of survivorship emphasizes and values longevity of life after diagnosis, while overlooking issues of quality of life.” Alternatives to the word survivor include “alivers” and “thrivers” which place emphasis on living as well as you possibly can despite limitations and disability.
We know that those of us who have experienced cancer often will have physical and psychosocial challenges. “These effects vary from person to person and statistics show that cancer survivors suffer from more psychological distress than those who have never experienced cancer (5.6% compared to 3.0%). Serious psychological distress is seen 40% more in cancer survivors of 5 years or longer than in those who have never experienced cancer. In addition, around 10% of cancer survivors develop depressive disorder, others experience an adjustment disorder, and many are fearful that their cancer could recur (9 in 10 patients).”
The medical challenges experienced by survivors can include among others: cancer- related fatigue, long-term side effects from cancer and treatments, and temporary or persistent cognitive problems (chemo brain). In a nutshell, cancer survivors frequently need medical monitoring and complementary modalities to address the psychosocial effects of cancer.
I also reviewed the definition of the word survive in the Merrian Webster Dictionary and one definition caught my eye. This definition comes from Latin and the word is supervivere = the word super and the word vivere which means to live. As survivors, we often reflect on our cancer journey by evaluating our priorities, looking within for our strengths and ways to cope, dwelling on cancer and how it has changed our lives, and assessing our fears and finding how best to manage those. We now reflect on what really matters in our lives and how we should move forward. And, we review passions we may have had in the past and make those a priority and goal. We also take a hard look at our lives as we get a second chance to live.
For me, survivorship is about living and making a difference. It is about living in spite of the fears and the aches and pain. It is about taking the time to enjoy life fully and enjoying every opportunity to celebrate life. I invite you to share a comment on what it means for you to be a survivor.
I hope you all plan to attend the 19th Annual McLeod Cancer Survivor’s Day Celebration this Saturday! The event will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the McLeod Medical Plaza Conference Center. All cancer survivors in the region are welcome to attend whether you are newly diagnosed or you have been a survivor for 20 plus years.
In addition, our breast cancer support group, Shelby’s Group, meets this Thursday, June 16, at 6:00 p.m. at the McLeod Resource Center. Our guest will be Stuart Harrell, Assistant Director of McLeod Pastoral Care, as we explore Spirituality and Healing. Come join us!
A Detour to Renewal May 19, 2011Posted by mcleodcancercenter in Uncategorized.
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DETOUR: This month we are taking a detour from our usual medical education
series that group members have come to enjoy as we attempt to empower ourselves with knowledge that serves us well in survivorship.
“THE LATEST CANCER TREATMENTS AREN’T ALWAYS PRESCRIBED BY YOUR DOCTOR”
Isn’t that the truth! Have you noticed how your skin has changed during and after treatment, how your hair has fallen out, thinned out, changed, how your nails have also taken a dive, perhaps your self image has even plummeted with all the changes that are occurring in your look and body?
Well now that summer is approaching and spring has brought a sense of
renewal this is the best time for a detour to pamper ourselves and have some fun.
That is the agenda for Thursday May 19, 2011 as we host a Look Good…Feel Better Self Image Workshop with make up, and new ways to take care of our skin and hair. We will definitely feel pampered at this end of this session.
Come join us and get ready to have some fun. Remember most of us used to
play dress up so why not now!!!
Raquel and Rena
After Cancer Treatment Care Plans April 13, 2011Posted by mcleodcancercenter in Uncategorized.
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A group member recently wrote and asked the following question: “In regard to pain management, I read that 40% of breast cancer survivors have pain — should this be a part of our written long-term after cancer treatment follow up care plan?”
The After Cancer Treatment Care Plan attempts to improve/enhance the care a cancer patient receives once active treatment has ended. During treatment, patients are receiving constant care from their health care team. However, after treatment ends, many patients feel like they are in limbo not knowing what to expect next in their follow up care. A Care Plan that addresses post-treatment cancer survivor care “can improve quality of life for the cancer patient.”
You may ask what is a Care Plan? A Care Plan begins with an end of treatment summary, date of diagnosis, type of cancer, stage of cancer, and what your treatment included. The following list includes some things you can do to empower yourself and become an active member of your care team:
- Ask your doctor for an end of treatment summary.
- Ask questions about potential long-term health conditions that can develop throughout your life both in the short-term and long-term.
- What treatment consisted of and the names of your chemotherapies or any therapeutic agents you received.
- What the health risks associated with those treatments could pose to you in the future.
- Symptoms that could potentially indicate recurrence.
- Information regarding how often you might need health screenings and check-ups.
- A personal wellness plan that includes ways to care for your physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.
- A list of support resources.
To answer the question as to whether you should include the subject of pain in your Care Plan the answer is yes as this would fall under information on both short and long-term effects of cancer. It is also important that as part of your follow up care with your physician you should make him aware of any symptoms that are bothersome or new, including pain. For additional information or to look at samples of After Cancer Treatment Care Plans, you may contact me at email@example.com or call 843-777-5695.
By the way, the next meeting of Shelby’s Group is Thursday, April 21, 2011, at 6:00 p.m. at the McLeod Resource Room, 927 E. Day Street. Please consider joining us and remember new members are always welcome!