by David Glick
It is difficult enough to deal with the loneliness that can accompany a diagnosis of cancer. But some lung cancer patients must deal with even more than their feelings of isolation: Some believe they are at fault for their disease.
|Rupinder Sidhu encourages and supports lung cancer patients through their treatment journey. (Photo by Alicia Di Rado)|
To empower these patients, members of the Department of Supportive Care Medicine’s Division of Clinical Social Work offer a lung cancer support group that provides vital education. In response to specific feedback from City of Hope’s lung cancer patients, the group features a guest speaker from the Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program, the Department of Supportive Care Medicine or the community every month.
“Lung cancer patients have unique psychological needs. They not only deal with the fears and concerns of a cancer diagnosis, but also sometimes the stereotype that they did this to themselves” due to habits like smoking, said clinical social worker Rupinder Sidhu, L.C.S.W., who facilitates City of Hope’s lung cancer educational group. “We want our patients to feel acknowledged and to know that they are not alone in their treatment.”
Sidhu is a strong proponent of ensuring that patients feel empowered during their treatment journey. “When the loss of control over their body is so significant, I work to empower them in their attitude toward life and living — helping them create meaning, purpose and a sense of quality to their life even in the face of this illness,” she said.
Past educational topics have included useful tips on improving breathing, featuring physician Brian Tiep, M.D., eating a healthy diet during treatment, featuring dietitian Laura Dorr-Uyemura, R.D., and using movement to support better breathing, with the Department of Rehabilitation Services’ Stephanie Buss, P.T.A. After the speaking segment, Sidhu guides participants in a discussion. “The focus is on patients sharing who they are or have become in the face of lung cancer, their survivorship attitude and what they want to impart to their peers,” she said.
Lung cancer presents unique challenges not only to patients, but also to those who care for them, so family members are encouraged to attend the support group. The group emphasizes that caregivers are not alone and underscores the significance of their role to the patient.
The lung cancer support group meets the first Wednesday of every month in the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center’s activity room from 6 to 7:30 p.m. For additional information or to register for the group, call 626-256-4673, ext. 62282. Preregistration is encouraged.