by Pat Kramer
A cancer diagnosis may spawn a flurry of questions and a sense of loneliness and isolation. Yet patients are not alone. Whatever the type of cancer, someone else has experienced it firsthand.
That assurance is a key element to Patient Peer Pals, a new program soon to be launched by the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center.
The program will provide emotional support to patients and their family members by matching newly diagnosed patients with patient volunteers who have undergone similar experiences.
Through these short-term, one-to-one connections, patients will receive support from someone who has experienced the highs and lows of cancer treatment. This support would typically involve providing practical information and a glimpse of what the cancer journey may be like.
“Our Patient Peer Pals are cancer survivors who can relate in a unique and positive way to patients who are newly diagnosed,” said Linda Baginski, patient resources coordinator in the Department of Patient, Family & Community Education and a cancer survivor herself. “While their physician and other health-care professionals provide patients with needed medical care and treatment, supportive peers play a vital role in helping our City of Hope cancer patients adjust to their cancer treatment experience.”
Patient Peer Pals is a combined effort of the departments of Clinical Social Work and Patient, Family & Community Education, and is sponsored by the Biller Resource Center. The Biller Resource Center assists patients, and those close to them, by providing services that nurture their mind, body and spirit. Services under the Biller Resource Center range from support groups to healing arts programs. The center’s physical space will open later this year, but the Patient Navigator Service, several support groups and other programs already are being offered.
Clinical social worker Pat Robertson, L.C.S.W., and Linda Baginski, patient resources coordinator, are currently responsible for the screening, training and support for the Patient Peer Pals Program. The first group of Peer Pal volunteers is now being screened for training for the program, which will be launched officially soon.
Baginski noted that former patients often feel they are giving back and contributing to the community by assisting others who need support. Patient Peer Pals will receive ongoing education, support and recognition during their one-year involvement in the program.
For more information on Patient Peer Pals, contact Linda Baginski at ext. 62978.