Lung cancer patients rarely worry just about their treatment. The symptoms and discomfort associated with their illness — a nagging cough, frequent pain and depression — can be huge sources of stress, placing a strain on both the patient and their family.
Our health professionals at City of Hope are dedicated to providing the best treatments possible. We are in the midst of a five-year program that involves 200 patients and 170 family caregivers, and it has already illustrated that a significant level of emotional support is needed. In addition to the difficulties that come with their disease and treatment, a majority of patients were found to often suffer from other forms of chronic illness, to worry about their quality of life, and to suffer from spiritual struggles and other difficulties. Meanwhile, a majority of family caregivers were also found to suffer from chronic illnesses and depression, while also worrying about navigating health services and demands upon their time.
To help patients cope, a nurse meets with them individually every week to talk about their needs — physical, psychological, social and spiritual. They also teach family caregivers how to best care for their family member while also taking care of themselves.
This new program has not only helped our patients, but it has also drawn the attention of researchers across the nation. “People are hungry for resources across the country,” said Betty Ferrell, Ph.D., R.N., professor in the Division of Nursing Research and Education. “They’re already asking for our findings.”
City of Hope is recognized worldwide for our compassionate patient care, innovative science and translational research. The early results from this study show why all three of these elements are essential and why we work so hard to heal the whole person, rather than simply treating the illness.