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Tag Archives: cancer survivorship

Survivorship Series: Communication Confusion

annekatzby Anne Katz, PhD, RN 

This Monthly Survivorship Series, written by CKN Survivorship Editor, Anne Katz, is provided by CKN with permission from ONS.  We hope this series will become a useful resource that will help to facilitate dialogue between cancer patients, their loved ones and their physicians with a view towards improving the quality of life for cancer survivors.  

Last week I saw a patient who was really con­fused about her treat­ment which was com­pleted at the begin­ning of the year. She has a rather nasty can­cer and I am sure that at the time of diag­no­sis she was in shock and prob­a­bly more than a lit­tle ter­ri­fied. Her surgery fol­lowed pretty quickly after the diag­no­sis and now 4 months later, she is really unclear about what was removed dur­ing surgery, and what remains.

The issue of com­mu­ni­ca­tion within the con­text of can­cer treat­ment and sur­vivor­ship is one that is near and dear to my heart — every day I spend hours com­mu­ni­cat­ing to patients and I am never 100% sure of what they heard and took in and under­stand. I KNOW what I tell patients (I do it over and over) but I don’t know what they hear. And what they under­stand is so impor­tant to their lives.

Now I am not alone in this pro­vi­sion of infor­ma­tion and edu­ca­tion. My physi­cian and nurs­ing col­leagues are also telling them things. We know that after a per­son hears the words “you have can­cer” they hear about 10% of what comes next. That’s a scary num­ber because we all know that a lot of infor­ma­tion is given after they hear those words. Hope­fully it is repeated again and again in the days, weeks and months fol­low­ing diag­no­sis. And hope­fully once treat­ment is over, the per­son is less trau­ma­tized and is bet­ter able to hear what we have to say.

But I’m not sure. And that makes me uncomfortable.

We pro­vide our patients with a raft of sup­port­ing writ­ten and multi-​​media infor­ma­tion. But do they read any of that or watch the DVDs? I know some patients do because they refer to it or call to ask for fur­ther clar­i­fi­ca­tion.  But not every­one calls.  So those who have ques­tions I know about — but what about the others?

I think about this a lot as I go about my day. How do you deal with this com­mu­ni­ca­tion confusion?

 

Survivorship Series: Sexuality = A Survivorship Issue

annekatzby Anne Katz, PhD, RN 

This Monthly Survivorship Series, written by CKN Survivorship Editor, Anne Katz, is provided by CKN with permission from ONS.  We hope this series will become a useful resource that will help to facilitate dialogue between cancer patients, their loved ones and their physicians with a view towards improving the quality of life for cancer survivors.  

 

I am a certified-sex­u­al­ity coun­selor at a large can­cer cen­ter in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Peo­ple I meet (who are not oncol­ogy care providers) often ask if it is dif­fi­cult to work with peo­ple with can­cer. “It must be so sad,” they say. “How do you han­dle it when your patients die?” As oth­ers: “You must be so brave…”

Huh?

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Harriet and Survivorship

by Sarah A.O. Isenberg

also by Sarah: Transition, Cancer is a Catalyst

 

It’s with a heavy heart, a pit in my stomach, and tears in my eyes that I write this essay on survivorship. Yesterday, they buried a woman who played a pivotal role in my cancer experience. Her name was Harriet. She was a psychologist who worked with an organization dedicated to helping people living with cancer navigate the experience. From support groups to art therapy to journaling groups to qi gong, this community served as a haven for people living with cancer. A place to go where so much was understood from the get-go. Where there were no platitudes. Where people were real: They understood the gravity of the situation; that some of us would be lucky and survive the ordeal, and that some of us wouldn’t, but that the “ride” along the way mattered, so much.

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Transition: Cancer is a Catalyst

by Sarah A.O. Isenberg

This month’s topic here at CKN is “transitions.” I have to admit, it’s been tough for me to get down on paper how I feel about life after cancer. It’s multifaceted. It’s complicated. One thing I know for sure is that cancer is a catalyst. For better or worse, no one touched by cancer is left unchanged.

 

After both my cancer diagnoses, I came out swinging – determined to use my cancer experience to fashion a better life for myself. I had almost ten years between rounds of breast cancer, and by the time the second diagnosis came, I’d fully assimilated the first. I’d transitioned from a hard-nosed go-getter to a soft and gentle stay-at-home mom, admittedly retaining a little bit of an edge (if you saw me working out, or dealing with contractors, you’d understand). I’d changed our eating habits and started cooking almost all our food from scratch using whole-food ingredients and as many local, in-season vegetables as I could; before this was trendy. I committed to exercising every day. I became a prevention fanatic, determined to do all in my power to avoid another cancer.

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Turning Your Life Around: Isolation: “Get help to get help”

Turning Your Life Around is an ongoing series exclusive to the Cancer Knowledge Network.  It is written by Jen Luce, CKN’s Life After Cancer Editor,  ovarian cancer survivor and young adult cancer advocate.  We hope this series will become a useful, peer-reviewed resource that will help to facilitate dialogue between cancer patients and their physicians with a view towards creating an individualized plan of action regarding treatment and therapy.

Turning Your Life Around: Introduction

Turning Your Life Around: Transition

Turning Your Life Around:  Fear and Uncertainty

The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition of “isolate” is: to set apart from others; also quarantine. I can’t say that I ever thought of the two being synonymous, but when I think about it now, I must agree. Feeling isolated through my cancer diagnosis in many ways felt as if I’d been quarantined. There are different types of isolation as well: internal and external.

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