August 30, 2012 | by Shawn Le
There have been some interesting stories recently across the Internet, newspapers and TV that all looked at cancer treatment from a different perspective. They weren’t about new drugs, surgeries or customized therapies.
They looked at the experience of dealing with cancer, not just treating the disease.
“Good Morning America” recently ran a story on patient navigators at City of Hope. These navigators help patients make their way through the health-care system physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Yes, these staff members can give you directions, but they can also get you to the right people to talk about your fears, your bills, the right foods to eat during chemo, and how to break your health news to your family. They’re about getting you the tools you need to live with cancer.
The Wall Street Journal’s health blog jumped in with a post about resources that help patients deal with the rollercoaster of cancer. How well or poorly patients manage their stress may very well impact how they comply with treatment and respond to it. The article talks about how a simple questionnaire now available online can help patients in distress get the help they need. This screening system comes from a tablet-based tool called Support Screen developed at City of Hope. It’s been licensed to other organizations and institutions.
The group blog Boing Boing also jumped into the fray. Despite the Lance Armstrong controversy, donors continue to give to Armstrong’s Livestrong foundation. Some have criticized the foundation for not supporting cancer research directly. But this post from a cancer survivor shares the importance of the foundation’s work supporting patients in treatment and afterward. And that, she says, is why it was created.
These are only three examples of national attention on emerging issues, like survivorship, that are related to cancer but aren’t about the cancer itself.
Today, many cancer centers are recognizing the needs of the whole patient, not just the disease. At City of Hope, the Department of Supportive Care Medicine and the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center are making sure these supportive care services are grounded in evidence and backed by feedback from patients and their caregivers.
We’re still looking for a cure. That’s important work. Equally important, though, is making sure that patients still feel like people throughout their treatment.