Palliative Care Inches Toward Standard of Care

October 29, 2014

The Inaugural Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium made its debut in Boston on October 24, 2014. Jointly sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM), American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC), this marks the first major meeting of cancer specialists and clinicians who focus on relieving symptoms.

Palliative care is specialized medical treatment that focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness. It improves quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Traditionally, palliative care has been accessed only toward the end of life. Many recent studies however, have shown that introducing it earlier into cancer patients’ care plans results in improved quality of life, living longer and lower medical costs. Patients and families may resist palliative services because they associate the term with hospice and end of life. This problem of semantics often results in patients not being adequately treated for debilitating symptoms such as pain, nausea and fatigue.

It’s time to correct these misconceptions and help patients access the care they need, be it medical, emotional, spiritual, financial or otherwise. Through palliative care, people affected by cancer will benefit from improved symptom management, reduced stress and overall, a better quality of life.

Want to know more? Visit cancer.gov or cancer.net for additional resources.

Our guest blogger is CancerCare Chief Executive Officer Patricia J. Goldsmith.

 


The Benefits of Joining a Support Group

August 27, 2014

People with cancer and their caregivers sometimes feel that other people, unless they’ve been through it themselves, don’t really understand or “get it.” Or they don’t want to burden their families or friends with their worries: Why do I feel so bad? What will happen to me?

Joining a support group is an opportunity to meet with people who are going through similar experiences. By expressing your thoughts and feelings and sharing what you’ve learned, you may begin to feel less alone. Group members exchange valuable information and tips with one other including where to find reliable medical information, how to communicate better with their doctors, and what useful resources are available. Groups provide a safe space in which individuals can voice their feelings, concerns, and anxieties without fear of judgment or reproach.

One support group member shares her experience and gratitude. “The people in this group have become family to me. They understand the roller coaster ride. I can cry here and I can share tender stories here. I can share the rays of sunshine as they come. I am grateful to CancerCare for facilitating this group – I don’t know what I would have done without it.”

All of CancerCare’s support groups are led by oncology social workers. These professionals help the group achieve its goal of providing support to members, and can also help members individually as needed. Groups meet face-to-face, over the telephone and online.

If you’re feeling alone and needing information and emotional support, a group might be a valuable way of connecting with people to help you cope with your situation. CancerCare has many free support groups that may be a fit for you or your loved one. And if a support group is not a good fit, you may consider individual counseling.


Coping with Cancer as an Older Adult

August 7, 2014

Older adults have numerous strengths, including knowledge and experience, that can assist them in coping with a cancer diagnosis. Simultaneously, they may face unique challenges that affect their ability to make health care decisions and receive quality care.

Today, older adults find themselves in an increasingly complex medical system where they are expected to take an active role in managing their care when they may be unable to do so. Access to medical information through technology may prove confusing and cause patients to refrain from asking key questions about their care or feel unsure about where to access important and accurate health information.

It is essential that older adults and their loved ones be able to openly and honestly discuss their care with their doctors and any potential difficulties that may arise. CancerCare has valuable tips for communicating with your health care team.

Many older patients struggle with changes related to aging and becoming more dependent on others. As oncology health professionals, we are in the unique position to provide care and support. To learn more, please call 800-813-HOPE (4673).

Our guest blogger Sarah Kelly, LSCW is coordinator for Older Adult Services at CancerCare


Understanding Palliative Care

July 11, 2014

Did you know that palliative care helps people at any age and any stage of cancer? Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing you with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness like cancer.

The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for both you and your family. You can receive it along with your curative treatment. The palliative care team of doctors, nurses, social workers and other specialists will work together with your other doctors to provide an extra layer of support.

To get palliative care, ask your doctor for a referral. CancerCare has resources to help you learn more about palliative care and you can also visit Get Palliative Care for additional information.

 


Coping with Cancer in the Workplace

May 13, 2014


Recent medical advances are allowing more and more people coping with cancer to continue working during and after treatment. The workplace can be a supportive environment for people facing a cancer diagnosis; it can contribute to a sense of normalcy and provide a feeling of community, not to mention financial stability and health insurance benefits.

For many people who want to continue to work during and after treatment, the issue of disclosure looms large in their minds. Some may worry that they will be seen as a liability to their employer and perhaps be terminated from their position if they open up about their diagnosis. Others may fear that they will encounter subtle discrimination.

As an oncology social worker at CancerCare, I encourage clients who decide to tell their employers about their cancer to learn as much as possible about their diagnosis and treatment schedule before discussing it. Presenting a plan of action to their supervisor will not only help people feel more in control of their diagnosis, it may help ease the supervisor’s or coworkers’ concerns about how work will keep moving forward as the patient copes with his or her diagnosis.

Part of returning to work after an illness is immersing oneself back into the identity you had before treatment. I encourage people to take control of conversations that become about their cancer by acknowledging their colleague’s comment and then immediately focusing back to work specific topics. This is called “re-casting” or resetting your professional image.

There are many available resources that can help people coping with cancer in the workplace. CancerCare provides free resources on workplace issuesCancer and Careers is another excellent resource for information about coping with cancer in the workplace.

 

Our guest blogger is Anna L. Eckhardt, LCSW, coordinator of online services at CancerCare.         

 

 


How Technology Is Transforming Cancer Prevention

February 20, 2014

The field of oncology is constantly redefining treatment approaches and options to improve the standard of care for people everywhere. In a field that is rapidly making innovative advances, we are fortunate to stay aware of new discoveries in oncology through modern technology.

February is National Cancer Prevention Month, the perfect time to recognize how developments in oncology, coupled with technology, have impacted the lives of people living with cancer, caregivers and health professionals. A person’s geographic location or financial situation are no longer barriers. Mobile apps and health-focused websites allow instant access to topics such as cancer screenings, research updates and risk factors.

A prime example is simply picking up the telephone and joining one of CancerCare’s Connect Education Workshops. Whether participants listen to a live or archived Connect Education Workshop, they will hear compassionate experts in oncology provide the latest medical advances from the convenience of their own home or office. The comprehensive educational workshops have evolved with technology to include a webcast component, accessible online via podcast, and telephone replay.

CancerCare’s easy-to-read fact sheets and educational booklets, written by experts, can be ordered online, over the phone or viewed on our website. Like all of CancerCare’s services, our workshops, fact sheets and booklets are free of charge. 

In recognition of National Cancer Prevention Month, we encourage you to visit CancerCare’s workshop and publication webpages for up-to-date information from leading experts in oncology. The first and foremost step to cancer prevention is knowledge.

 

Guest blogger Sarah Quinlan is the Senior Education Technical and Marketing Coordinator at CancerCare.


CancerCare Recognizes Oral and Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week

April 16, 2013

The week of April 14-20 is nationally recognized as Oral and Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week.

Oral and head and neck cancers account for about 3% to 5% of all cancers in the United States. Thanks to recent treatment advances, many cancers of the head and neck can be cured, especially if they are found early. For this reason, prevention and early detection are especially important to treating oral and head and neck cancer.

The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance maintains a comprehensive listing of cancer screening sites. Visit a screening site this Friday, April 19 for a free head and neck cancer screening. 

CancerCare’s professional oncology social workers understand the challenges people coping with oral and head and neck cancer face. We provide free counseling, support groups, education, financial help and referrals to other resources.

Register for CancerCare’s May 15 Connect Education Workshop, “Progress in the Treatment of Oral and Head and Neck Cancer.” Leading experts will provide an overview of oral and head and neck cancer, discussing topics such as:

• new surgical and chemotherapy options

• clinical trials

• the importance of communicating with your health care team

• speech and swallowing challenges and recommendations

• and nutritional concerns and tips.

Participation is free, though registration is required.  

Learn more about CancerCare’s free services for people coping with oral and head and neck cancer.


Get Help Coping with Lung Cancer

April 8, 2013

People diagnosed with lung cancer face medical, emotional, financial and practical challenges. They may also face a unique stigma, as lung cancer is often associated with smoking.

A lung cancer diagnosis may lead some to ask, “Did you smoke?” It is natural to find such personal questions offensive and react in anger. Consider responding by talking about how lung cancer has many causes besides smoking, including environmental factors. Many people with lung cancer have never smoked, and can be unexpectedly diagnosed. Turning an inconsiderate question into a teachable moment can be a very powerful means of confronting lung cancer stigma. 

CancerCare’s professional oncology social workers can help you find ways to talk about lung cancer through individual counseling, and can put you in touch with others in a similar situation through a free support group.

Leading lung cancer experts will answer questions during CancerCare’s May 17 Connect Education Workshop, “Advances in the Treatment of Lung Cancer.” Participation is free, but registration is required.

Learn more and register.

View all of CancerCare’s lung cancer resources.


Latest Treatments Updates from the American Society of Hematology (ASH)

March 18, 2013

Read our publication Latest News in Blood Cancer Research: Highlights from the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology, which gives an overview of the cutting-edge research presented at the annual meeting. A number of exciting advances in leukemia treatment were reported, and some of the new developments presented included a fourth effective targeted treatment for people with resistant leukemia.

You may also order free copies through our website.

Lean more about CancerCare’s free, professional support services for people affected by leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma.


Support for Women with Cervical Cancer

January 25, 2013

CancerCare provides free support services for women coping with cervical cancer, including counseling from professional oncology social workers and financial assistance.

Beginning February 4, CancerCare will also offer an online support group for women diagnosed with gynecologic and/or reproductive cancer who are currently receiving treatment. The group will be led by a professional oncology social worker.

“A diagnosis of cervical cancer can leave women feeling uncertain and alone,” says CancerCare women’s cancers program coordinator Allison Nilsen, LMSW. “Joining a support group can be a wonderful way to connect with others in a similar situation, where members can share feelings, ideas and information in a supportive environment.” 

Registration is required to join this support group. After joining this password-protected group, members can read and post messages 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Register for this support group.

Visit CancerCare’s cervical cancer resources page to learn more about our services for women with cervical cancer.