Cancer Center Special Report
Continuing Care and Quality of Life
A Wide Variety of Cancer Programs Provide Education and SupportCoping with cancer is anything but easy. That’s why Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin offers a range of programs to help patients maintain a satisfactory quality of life before, during and after cancer treatment.
A wide variety of free support groups provide information and connection for cancer patients and their families. Most are disease-specific and meet monthly. Participants learn from speakers and network with each other. It’s a time to “share experiences, express concerns and discuss subjects of importance,” says Maria Pigsley, RN, facilitator of the prostate cancer support group. “The emphasis is to help survivors gain a positive mental outlook and lead healthy and productive lives, physically, mentally and spiritually.”
Because each person experiences cancer differently, special staff members are available to help patients find their way — or navigate — through their treatment. Our breast cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer navigators, all of whom are advanced practice nurses, offer a helping hand to patients and their families to deal with the stress of a cancer diagnosis. With their support, patients express their needs and concerns, as well as the needs of family members. This information is shared with other cancer physicians and other team members, so everyone can focus on the individual needs of each patient.
Navigators talk to patients about what to expect during treatment, coordinate appointments and help them follow their treatment regimens.They help patients make use of various resources, treatment services and support services they need to receive the best cancer treatment experience possible. Breast, prostate and lung cancer patients and their families receive the support of dedicated navigators and many others throughout their treatment at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin.
Psycho-oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist Mary Jo Sims provides additional one-on-one support. With expertise in psychology and oncology, Sims is uniquely qualified to address the psychological and emotional needs of cancer patients and their families. Cancer can exacerbate psychological issues or create complications, such as anxiety or depression. Sims evaluates patients and families and provides services ranging from counseling to prescribing medications.
Another important part of cancer treatment involves nutrition — an effective weapon in the battle against cancer. Registered Dietitian Dena McDowell is available to every cancer patient treated at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin. “If people eat a well-balanced diet, it helps the immune system,” she explains. “It can also help maintain weight and energy level throughout treatment — and that can help a person recover faster when treatment is over.”
Other support services available to cancer patients include social workers and pastoral care. In the near future, the hospital will have navigators for every major cancer program, such as those who currently help breast, prostate and lung cancer patients cope with treatment and other needs.
Small Stones, our award-winning, one-of-a-kind health resource center, offers extensive resources on almost any type of cancer, including books, cookbooks, audiotapes, videos and DVDs, Internet access, assorted products, and the expertise of dedicated nurse educators to empower patients and families so that they find exactly what they need. More information is available through our community education classes.
A unique Lymphedema and Cancer Rehabilitation Program is also available at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin. Cancer treatment can cause physically limiting side effects. Our comprehensive rehabilitation program addresses arm and leg swelling, fatigue, pain, and limited range of motion (pictured left). Oksana Sayko, MD, Medical College of Wisconsin physician and a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation, heads the program.
Last summer, 13 patients participated in a guided art therapy program that allowed them to express their deepest feelings regarding cancer. “Living with Cancer: A Reflection of the Human Spirit” was a five-week workshop that culminated in a special reception celebrating their courage and artistic expression. The workshops will be available again in 2006 for cancer patients of Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin and our regional partner, Community Memorial Hospital.
Source: Cancer Center Special Report 2005/06