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Tag Archives: anne katz

YAFC: Body Image


by Anne Katz PhD, RN

How we see ourselves refers not just to what we think about but also about how we think we look. This is called body image – and many of us, especially women, have a negative body image. This is in part as a result of the messages we get from the media about what is beautiful and desirable and this usually is put out to sell makeup and clothes and has very little to do with reality and health. But many of us are influenced by these messages and spend a lot of time and money trying to change our shape or appearance.

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The Elephant in the Room

obesityby Anne Katz PhD, RN (Surivivorship), CKN Editor

There’s an elephant in the examination room that literally weighs 300 lbs –  and the elephant’s name is ‘obesity’. We all know that obesity has reached epidemic proportions in North America, and the oncology population is part of that epidemic. Many of our patients are overweight and yet we don’t talk about this – or at least not as often as we should.

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Canada Leads the Way

Canada-flagby Anne Katz PhD, RN

The American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) recently released new guidelines that are important for survivorship care. One is on screening, assessment and care of anxiety and depressive symptoms in adults with cancer (Andersen et al., 2014; published online on April 14, 2014; DOI:10.1200/JCO.2013.52.4611). This guideline is an adaptation of the Pan-Canadian Guideline on screening (Howell et al., 2011) however ASCO has made some changes based on local context and the “practice beliefs” of the committee members in the US.

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by Anne Katz PhD, RN, CKN Survivorship Section Editor


I work in the Manitoba Prostate Centre where we see men with both benign and malignant prostate disease. Many of these men are elderly and often they leave a lingering odor behind them in the waiting room and examination room. Urology nurses are used to these odors and my nursing colleagues often raise their eyebrows at me when I wrinkle my nose in response. I am not judging the patient; it is not their fault that they have this problem. It is a side effect of treatment compounded by the fact that they don’t launder their clothes frequently or perhaps their families have gotten used to the smell or perhaps they don’t know how to address it without feeling shame and embarrassment. A recent article in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship Research and Practice (Alsadius et al., 2013) highlights this issue. The men in this study had radiation therapy for prostate cancer between 2 and 14 years previously.  A testament to the importance of this issue is the response rate – 89% – from men over the age of 80 years.

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Post Traumatic Growth – An Unanticipated Side Effect of Cancer



by Anne Katz PhD, RN, CKN Survivorship Editor




“As horrible as it was, the cancer made me a better person.”


We hear this sometimes, the expression of benefit from a journey that threatened life and all that is held most precious. Cancer survivors talk about lessons learned, about a new way of seeing and appreciating family and friends and life. This is called post-traumatic growth and for the past two decades this concept has been of interest to those who work with individuals with cancer and other stressful and/or traumatic life events. It is also called “benefit-finding” and refers to the reinterpretation of trauma as an opportunity for growth (Jim & Jacobsen, 2008).

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Post-traumatic stress and growth: Unexpected late side effects of cancer

PTSSby Anne Katz PhD, RN, CKN Survivorship Section Editor

One of the more seldom seen but important late side effects of cancer and its treatments is the development of severe distress. This  is very similar to post-traumatic stress disorder and is called past-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS). It is thought that this occurs in cancer survivors as a result of repeated stress over time such as experiencing repeated, painful procedures. Witnessing the suffering and experiencing the loss of other people from support groups and/or treatment centres are also potential contributors. Post-traumatic stress may lead to problems with return to work or school; decision making capacity may be affected and some people struggle to process information. Survivors may avoid follow up appointments because the anxiety before and during the interaction with health care providers makes their stress symptoms worse. Many survivors with PTSS think that they are going crazy and do not report their distress to anyone; this precludes getting help and ongoing stress can make them physically ill.

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