Posts Tagged ‘cancer survivors’

Growing Hope Together!

Mary BrookhartI was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 33. A cancer diagnosis always comes as a shock, but it’s particularly unexpected at that age. Because my mother had breast cancer at a young age, a new provider sent me for my base line screening mammogram and that turned out to be my first and only mammogram. I can say without a doubt that a mammogram saved my life.

I was treated here at Winship, by Dr. Toncred Styblo and Dr. David Lawson. Twenty-five years later, all three of us are still here. I came back to Winship six years ago, but not as a patient. I took a job as supervisor of business operations for the Glenn Family Breast Center at Winship, and I am one of the organizers of the Celebration of Living event coming up this Sat., June 21.

That’s why the Celebration of Living event is so near and dear to my heart. This is a chance to get together with other survivors, and discover that part of being a survivor is learning that it’s ok to let fun and humor back into your life. Learn to let the fear go and not let it rule your life. Coming to the Celebration of Living event can be a first step toward getting back out into the world, or it can be a continuation of your on-going journey. We all know that battling cancer has very dark moments, but I hope we can bring some hope and lightness into your life.

So I invite all cancer survivors, their family members and friends to come share this special day. There will be workshops for the mind, body and soul, as well as music, food and companionship. It’s free and open to all. Detailed information is available on our website.

I see more and more people surviving cancer because of new and better treatments and earlier detection. In the time since I got my screening mammogram, the technology has greatly improved. Emory and Winship are now offering state-of-the-art 3D mammograms (also called tomosynthesis) at no additional charge above the cost of standard mammograms, so that all women can benefit from this more precise screening technology. For more information about this new service and where it’s available, check out this video about 3D mammography at Emory Healthcare.

For some, the idea of living a normal lifespan with cancer as a chronic disease is a reality.

My hope is that one day, all cancer patients will enjoy a lifetime of survivorship.

Mary Brookhart,
Cancer Survivor

About Mary Brookhart

Mary Brookhart grew up in Ohio before moving to Georgia to get away from the snow. There she enjoyed a 20+ year career in advertising and design. In 2008, looking for something more rewarding, Mary returned to Winship, this time, not as a patient, but as supervisor of business operations for the Emory Glenn Family Breast Center. Besides serving as an advocate for breast cancer patients, Mary coordinates screenings for mammograms and the Emory’s Breast Cancer Seminar for the Newly Diagnosed breast cancer patient. She currently lives in rural Conyers, with her husband of 37 years, and their three horses.

8 Ways to Cope with Cancer as a Young Adult

Friend SupportReceiving a cancer diagnosis can be devastating. Just imagine how hard it would be to hear the news as a young adult. The challenges of being diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 18 and 39 are different from those in patients who are diagnosed later in life.

Many young adults diagnosed with cancer experience a disruption in a new career and dating. Cancer and any treatments that follow can sometimes have long-term affects on a person’s ability to start a family.

Here are eight ways to help you cope with cancer as a young adult:

  1. Request and ask for help. Having a support system during this time is critical. Be sure to reach out to others for support even after your treatment is completed.
  2. Consider giving friends and family members specific tasks in order to help you. Some friends and family members may not be sure how best to support you during this time. It may be helpful to you and them to provide friends and family members with specific requests. For example, request rides to treatment, ask for certain meals to be made or errands to be ran.
  3. Educate yourself. Having knowledge about your diagnosis and treatment often helps young patients maintain some sort of control during this time. This also helps to ensure you are making educated decisions about your healthcare.
  4. Ask questions! Do not hesitate to ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions. Write down your questions prior to your medical appointments.
  5. Inquire about how your treatment will affect you. Many treatments affect a patient’s ability to conceive children in the future. Talk with your medical professional about this and what options may be available to you.
  6. Consider reaching out to other young cancer survivors through young adult support groups or connecting online. The Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University currently has a new Young Adult Cancer Survivor Online Support Group that meets once a month. This group is specific for any young adult who was diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 18 and 39.
  7. Reach out to a social worker for additional emotional support. Oncology social workers have a special level of expertise and are trained to provide support to patients as they are coping with diagnosis and treatment. It is often helpful to be able to process your feelings with someone else. Social workers also have a wealth of knowledge about additional resources that may be helpful.
  8. Try not to compare yourself to other friends or family members. Your cancer diagnosis may have altered your life pattern, however, it does not have to destroy it.

The cancer diagnosis is something that happened to you, but it doesn’t have to define you or control your future. There is help out there; you just have to know where to look and who to ask.

About Joy McCall, LMSW

Joy McCallJoy McCall is a Winship social worker with bone marrow transplant, hematology and gynecologic teams and their patients. She started her professional career at Winship as an intern, working with breast, gynecologic, brain and melanoma cancer patients. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Kennesaw State University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Georgia. As part of her education she completed an internship with the Marcus Institute working on the pediatric feeding unit, and an internship counseling individuals and couples at Families First, supporting families and children facing challenges to build strong family bonds and stability for their future. She had previously worked with individuals with developmental disabilities for over 4 years, providing support to families and caregivers.

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Valerie Harper: An Energetic Will to Fight in the Face of Cancer

Valerie Harper Cancer DiagnosisWhat would you do if you were told you had an incurable disease and possibly only months to live? Actress Valerie Harper recently had to ask herself that question. This past January, Harper, best known for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, was told she has leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare form of incurable brain cancer.

Doctors told Harper, who already has battled lung cancer, that she could have as little as three months to live. Since going public with her news back in March, Harper has mentioned in several media appearances that she has gained strength from opening up about her battle with cancer. In an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, Harper displayed great courage and an even greater attitude when asked about her devastating diagnosis. “There’s other ways to handle it than just sit on the couch and accept.”  Through her actions, Harper has demonstrated that she is doing anything but ‘sit on the couch and accept.’

Now, eight months since her diagnosis, Harper has yet to slow down. Instead, she is doing book tours and TV appearances, exercising and even starring in an upcoming TV movie, set to air January 2014.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of willpower is “energetic determination,” while the Cambridge American English Dictionary defines it as “the ability to control your own thoughts and behavior, especially in difficult situations.”

A cancer diagnosis affects each patient and his or her family members differently. Some people may enter a state of severe depression, while others go about their normal activities while only stopping to receive treatment. For Harper, energetic determination is the key to making sure every day is the best it can be.

What are your thoughts on Valerie’s reaction to her earth-shattering diagnosis? Do you think her willpower has anything to do with her outlook on life, or could it be her coping mechanism?

At Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, we understand that life after a cancer diagnosis can be anything but ordinary. Because of this understanding, we have developed our survivorship program to meet the needs of cancer survivors at any stage of cancer, from diagnosis to post-treatment. For more information on the Winship Survivorship Program, email survivorship@emoryhealthcare.org or call 404-778-0572.

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Cancer Survival Rates Expected to Rise by 37% over 10 years!

By the year 2022, there will be 18 million cancer survivors living in the United States, according to a recent report by the American Association for Cancer Research. The report points out that as survival rates increase and cancer survivors become an ever-growing portion of the population, a coordinated effort will become crucial to meeting long-term medical, psychosocial and practical needs.

When news of the boost in survivor numbers made headlines, CNN Newsroom anchor Brooke Baldwin brought Emory surgical oncologist Charles Staley, MD on set to interview him as both a cancer doctor, and a cancer survivor. Watch the full interview below:

As more people are living longer after a cancer diagnosis it is very important to educate survivors on the after effects, long term effects, nutrition, and fitness following cancer care. Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University has a Survivorship program to help patients get back to life after surviving cancer. Get more information about the survivorship program.

Over the course of the next few months we will highlight many different areas of survivorship on the Winship blog so make sure to follow us to get more detailed information on living after cancer.

Dr. Charles StaleyAbout Dr. Charles Staley

Dr. Staley is the Chief of Surgical Oncology for Emory University Hospital and Chief Medical Officer for Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. Dr. Staley specializes in treating cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, stomach, liver, small bowel and rectum. He has investigated gene therapy for metastatic colon cancer and radiofrequency ablation with intra-arterial chemotherapy for patients with colorectal liver metastases. Currently, he and his colleagues are exploring methods of using nanotechnology to treat and diagnose pancreatic and breast cancer. He joined Emory University School of Medicine faculty in 1995 after a surgical fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Dr. Staley earned his medical degree at Dartmouth University School of Medicine and conducted his residency at the University of Pittsburgh’s University Health Center. Dr. Staley is an active member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, The Georgia Surgical Society, and the Society of Surgical Oncology.

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Prepare for Life After a Diagnosis of Cancer

Cancer SurvivorshipAccording to the American Cancer Society, there are over 13.5 million survivors of cancer in the US today (a cancer survivor is defined as anyone from the moment of diagnosis throughout the balance of his or her life). This number is expected to significantly increase over the next 20 years due to improved early detection, improved treatment options, aging baby boomers and longer life expectancies. With longer life expectancies, cancer survivors can experience a higher burden of illness than others not diagnosed with cancer.

Few experiences in life match the feeling patients and family members have when they complete acute treatment for cancer and begin their road to survivorship. Some patients move on quickly and experience no further challenges associated with cancer, but others experience “after effects,” or long-term or late effects. Cancer survivors, and their families, should be aware of these potential after effects so they can prepare themselves to deal with them as they get back to a more normal life.

After affects can range from mild to severe and vary from survivor to survivor.

  • Long–term effects of cancer develop during cancer treatment and may not go away.  Some long-term effects can improve such as anemia, fatigue or anxiety.  Some potentially permanent long-term effects are limb loss, weakness or nerve damage.
  • Late effects are delayed effects of cancer treatment and they can surface months to years after treatment.  Some late effects of cancer treatment are heart disease, lung disease, lymphedema, osteoporosis, depression and secondary cancers.

After effects are categorized into physical, emotional and practical after effects.

Physical after effects include:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of limbs
  • Scars
  • Pain
  • Early menopause
  • Infertility
  • Loss of limb or use of limb
  • Lymphedema
  • Impotence
  • Loss of bladder and bowel control

Emotional after effects include:

  • Body image changes
  • Sexuality changes
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Fear

Practical after effects include:

  • Difficulty working due to physical and emotional after effects
  • Changes in relationships with loved ones, friends or co–workers
  • Problems getting or retaining health or life insurance coverage
  • Challenges communicating with healthcare team members
  • Financial stressors
  • Employment discrimination

It is very important to note that not all patients experience significant after effects of cancer, but knowing about them will help you cope and may limit the severity of these after effects with  early intervention and treatment.

Talk to your care provider about the after effects you might expect with your cancer and what you possibly could experience based on your treatment regimen. Keep a record of your symptoms to discuss with the care provider and make sure to schedule screening tests and follow up exams as recommended.

About Joan Giblin, NP

Joan Giblin, Winship Cancer Institute

Joan Giblin, NP has a total of 43 years of nursing experience, 25 as a family nurse practitioner and 16 as an oncology nurse practitioner, where she is actively involved in patient care and clinical trials.  In 2011, Ms. Giblin assumed a new role as the director of the Winship Survivorship Program with primary responsibilities for developing the program as a resource for patients and a means to facilitate continued good health and quality of life for cancer survivors.  Prior to this, she was the director of the Winship Call Center, the first point of contact for new cancer patients, and was instrumental in establishing protocols and procedures to streamline access to care at Winship.

Clinical Specialties: Ms. Giblin’s experience as an oncology nurse practitioner gives her unique perspective on the needs of cancer patients and cancer survivors. As a clinical nurse practitioner, she was part of the aerodigestive team, specializing in the care of patients with lung, head and neck and throat cancers.

Research Focus: Ms. Giblin’s current research is in the area of survivorship related to long term and late effects of cancer treatment and adherence to follow up.

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Bringing Survivorship Tools Closer to Home – Winship at the Y(MCA)

Most people are aware of the important role proper diet and exercise plays in disease prevention and management. At the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, we strongly recommend our patients maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and sustain a healthy diet both during and after cancer diagnosis. We encourage this not only so our patients can feel stronger and healthier during cancer treatment and return to a healthier life after treatment, but also because scientific evidence shows that proper diet and regular physical activity can help lower the chances of cancer coming back.

In fact, the American Cancer Society just released new guidelines on Nutrition and Exercise for cancer survivors. As most survivors know, life after cancer is not always easy, and returning to what was once considered “normal” prior to their cancer diagnosis does not always happen. At Winship, we consider all of our patients survivors from day one. To help them navigate their survivorship journey, our physicians and care team members are committed to making sure all survivors have easy access to the wide variety of support and programs available to them.

Recently, our team at Winship has teamed up with the YMCA of Metro Atlanta to make another lifestyle and support resource available to our patients. Winship at the Y was established to provide cancer survivors with better access to specialized exercise programs. YMCA wellness coaches and staff will be trained by the team at Winship— including Winship’s nurse practitioners, physician assistants, social workers and dieticians—on the specific fitness and exercises needs of cancer survivors.

The program, which is unlike any other in the country, is open to any cancer survivor, not just patients at the Winship Cancer Institute. Joan Giblin, a family nurse practitioner and Director of Winship’s Survivorship Program, developed this program from her desire to provide easily accessible cancer support to survivors in their own communities.

To learn more about ‘Winship at the Y’, watch Joan talk with CBS Atlanta reporter Jennifer Mayerle in the video below:

“Winship at the Y” locations:

Cowart Family/Ashford Dunwoody YMCA
3692 Ashford Dunwoody Road
Atlanta, GA 30319
770-451-9622

Decatur Family YMCA
1100 Clairemont Avenue
Decatur, GA 30030
404-377-9622

Ed Isakson/Alpharetta Family YMCA
3655 Preston Ridge Road
Alpharetta, GA 30005
770-664-1220

Carl E. Sanders Family YMCA at Buckhead
1160 Moores Mill Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30327
404-350-9292

Summit Family YMCA
1765 East Highway 34
Newnan, GA 30265
770-254-9622

J.M. Tull-Gwinnett Family YMCA
2985 Sugarloaf Parkway
Lawrenceville, GA 30045
770-963-1313

Andrew and Walter Young Family YMCA
2220 Campbellton Road
Atlanta, GA 30311
404-523-9622

Take-Aways on Cancer Survivorship & Support

Cancer Survivorship SupportWe recently held a live web chat with Joan Giblin, NP, Director of Survivorship at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. During the discussion, Joan answered questions about Winship’s survivorship programs and emphasized the importance of survivors, no matter what stage or walk of life, engaging in some form of survivorship program. Below you’ll find Joan’s main highlights from the chat discussion.

According to the National Cancer Institute, an individual is considered a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis through the balance of his or her life. Family members, friends and caregivers are also impacted by the survivorship experience and are therefore included in this description.

At the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, we take survivorship seriously and have developed programs to help you navigate through your role as a “survivor.” The cancer journey is difficult enough to maneuver through, so our comprehensive and dedicated care team members are there for you each step of the way.

For some survivors, life during and after cancer takes getting used to. What was normal prior to diagnosis may not be the case after cancer treatment. Ongoing care and attention to maintain a healthy quality of life is recommended. It is important to surround yourself with people who are going to encourage you to heal, both physically and mentally.  Exercise, maintaining a proper diet and joining a support group are all activities that will help your body heal from the physical and emotional distress cancer may have caused.

At Winship, we provide support for all stages of survivorship. We update and post a monthly calendar, which lists the support groups, community outreach events and services offered through Winship’s survivorship program. Support groups are available based on age, gender, type of cancer, etc. There are also groups specific to family members and caretakers of cancer survivors.

Recently, Winship partnered with the YMCA of Metro Atlanta to provide survivors with better access to exercise programs in closer range of their homes. Called Winship at the Y, this program is a collaboration unlike any other in the country. Winship staff including nurse practitioners, physician assistants, social workers and dieticians will train YMCA wellness coaches and staff on the specific fitness and exercises needs of cancer survivors.

So whether you just received the news of your cancer diagnosis, or you’re 30 years in remission, Winship offers support programs for every type of “survivor.” For more information on all our programs, please feel free to email me at survivorship@emoryhealthcare.org. If you missed the live chat, but would like to see the full discussion, the chat transcript is available now to view.

Author: Joan Giblin, Director of Survivorship Program at the Winship Cancer Institute

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