Posts Tagged ‘survivorship’

We Are Winship – Survive and Thrive

Shawn Ware felt a small lump in her breast while in the shower on January 2nd, 2009, and on that day, the journey on the fight against breast cancer began for Shawn, her husband Albert, daughter Demitria, son Jalen, and mother Eva Freeman. As part of her treatment plan, Shawn underwent a lumpectomy and additional treatment with radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Shawn Ware, breast cancer survivor

Shawn Ware

“You know those side effects that you see in fine print? I had all those and more,” she says, somehow able to laugh about them now. “I didn’t know that your eyelashes act as windshield wipers, and when I lost mine, I had to wear glasses just to keep things from getting in my eyes.”

Shawn triumphed. “I was ready to conquer the world after my last round of radiation,” she says. And three years later, she is considered a survivor and a reason for celebration.

“Cancer, it stinks,” says Shawn, the general manager of Blomeyer Health Fitness Center at Emory. “But you do change. You certainly learn to appreciate the good and not let the little things bother you any more.”

Like millions of other Americans, Shawn is part of a growing trend—more people than ever are surviving cancer. In just six years, the number of cancer survivors has jumped by almost 20 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute—11.7 million in 2007, up from 9.8 million in 2001, the most recent years available.

The good news comes with some challenges, however. As cancer treatment has become more successful, survivors —and their caregivers and providers—have learned that there is a cost to surviving.

“Long-term survivorship starts on the day treatment ends,” says nurse practitioner Joan Giblin, the director of Winship’s new Survivorship Program. “You’re actively doing something during treatment, but when treatment ends, many patients tell us they feel like they have been set adrift without a clear course. Our survivorship program is trying to bridge that gap and provide survivors with tools for these difficult times.”

Giblin says that some survivors respond by isolating themselves. Still others “jump right back into their old lives or try to adjust to a new life by adapting to any after-effects they may still be experiencing.”

Survivors of all types of cancer can face myriad physical issues. Treatment itself can be so hard on the body that survivors sometimes suffer chronic pain, heart problems, depression, sexual dysfunction, and a mental fogginess dubbed “chemo brain.” They also are at heightened risk for recurrence and secondary cancers.

Physical problems arise within individual cancer groups. For example, head and neck cancer patients often have trouble swallowing and lose their sense of taste. Breast cancer patients must deal with the changes that come as a result of a lumpectomy or mastectomy and reconstruction.

In addition, family and relationship problems may arise as all in a survivor’s relationship network struggle to adjust to cancer and life after cancer.  Emotional challenges abound, from sadness, fear, and anger to serious depression. Fatigue is common.

Winship Cancer Institute is helping survivors deal not only with the late physical effects of cancer but also with the psychological and social issues that are part of surviving.

“We are now defining a ‘new normal’ for these patients,” says Giblin. “There can be long-term after-effects when treated for cancer, and we are finding ways to improve their quality of life while providing guidance on strategies for dealing with these after-effects.”

The Winship Survivorship Program officially started in November, 2011. Already more than 10 Winship survivorship “clinics” are being offered, focusing on survivors of 10 different cancer categories. The program holds workshops on such vital topics as nutrition, preventing lymphedema, how to talk to children about cancer, spirituality and pet therapy. Workshops have been held on sexuality and also on fatigue. In May, Winship announced its collaboration with the YMCA of Metro Atlanta for a special exercise program for cancer survivors. A unique collaboration, Winship at the Y was Giblin’s brainchild. She is at the hub of a very extensive interdisciplinary wheel that involves specialists from a wide range of treatment areas, including nutrition, pain management, and psychiatry to help survivors thrive.

“We have to change how we look at cancer patients,” Giblin says. “Many cancers are not curable in a conventional sense, but the improvement in the quality and quantity of life needs to be our priority. Much as we view diabetes as a chronic condition, we must look at many cancers in the same way.”

Head and neck cancer survivor Barry Elson, 70, had difficulty swallowing after his treatment. Barry, who was first diagnosed in 2003, had an esophageal dilation last year to improve his ability to swallow.

“I think in the press of your day-to-day survivorship, you forget to ask what (the treatment) might do to your long-term quality of life,” Barry says.

Shawn found that exercise has not only helped her gain physical strength but also has helped her mental outlook. Shawn was able to exercise throughout most of her treatment, even as ill as she was. Now, her worst worry is fatigue. But that doesn’t slow her down. In her job as fitness manager at Blomeyer, she conducts “boot camp” training sessions and teaches other classes.

Winship is also helping survivors thrive by providing support services to help survivors cope with employment and insurance issues that arise as a result of their cancer.

“After treatment,” Giblin says, “patients tend to not be able to work as long, and they don’t have the stamina they used to have.” In addition, there can be stigma in the workplace against a cancer survivor, which in times of layoffs, can result in their loss of employment and consequently, loss of benefits.

“It’s the people who can’t afford to lose their jobs who do,” she says.

And even in cases where survivors keep their insurance benefits, they might find a lack of integrated care as they celebrate more birthdays.

Paper records are lost through the years, hospitals and oncology offices change and primary care physicians—who don’t have experience in oncology —aren’t prepared or educated to provide the ongoing care cancer survivors need.

Barry says he fared well—a result, in part, of diligent Winship physicians Amy Chen and Dong Moon Shin, and the nursing staff—including Giblin.

Despite the side effects she faced during treatment, Shawn says she has grown from her cancer experience.

It makes her a stronger survivor, she says, and also more hopeful, optimistic, and motivated.
“It’s almost motivated me to do more,” she says. “It really helps me to live day by day. You make every day everlasting.”

Original Article Source: Winship Magazine

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Total Lung Clinic – Shaping the Future of Lung Cancer Care

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death among men and women in the United States. The causes of lung cancer can vary drastically, but individuals who smoke are undeniably at higher risk for lung cancer than those who don’t.

The specific cellular changes that occur as a result of lung cancer vary and are unique to each patient. These complex and unique genetic mutations, in combination with the fact that lung cancer is more advanced than most other cancers by the time it’s diagnosed, make lung cancer more difficult to treat than other cancers.

Here at the Winship Cancer Institute, our comprehensive lung cancer treatment program is shaping the future of lung cancer care by studying the effects of individualized cancer treatments. Individualized care involves understanding the unique biology of the genes that are driving each patient’s lung cancer or tumor, which results in a lung cancer treatment plan tailored to each patient’s specific needs.  And because the treatment of lung cancer involves a multidisciplinary and collaborative care team, we have established programs such as our TOTAL Lung Clinic to make the journey through treatment and survivorship an easier one.

Lung Cancer Chat Sign UpOn November 27th, Dr. Suresh Ramalingam of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University is hosting an online chat on the topic of lung cancer to answer your questions and provide his feedback and insights on this complex disease. You can sign up for the lung cancer chat here, or using the button the right, and in the meantime, check out Dr. Ramalingam’s video to learn more about the benefits of individualized care for lung cancer patients.

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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

Join Us for a Web Chat on Cancer Survivorship & Intimacy

Cancer Survivorship & IntimacyDon’t miss it! Up next in our series of Live Chats for cancer survivors and their families, we will focus on the topic of intimacy. Cancer treatments can wreak havoc on body and mind, thus impacting how we feel about affection and intimacy.

Alice Mullins from Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University’s survivorship program will lead a discussion on this very important and often under-addressed topic.

Cancer Survivorship & Intimacy Web Chat Details:

Date: Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Time: 12:00 (noon) – 1:00 pm EST
Host: Alice Mullins, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University Survivorship Program
Topic: Cancer Survivorship – Intimacy TRANSCRIPT

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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When it Comes to Cancer, Beauty is More than Skin Deep

Elizabeth Goodman shares her experience at Winship’s Radiance Boutique

Emory Radiance Boutique“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched; they must be felt with the heart.” This quote by Helen Keller perfectly describes The Radiance Boutique at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, which offers up a feeling of beauty that is much more than skin deep and is most definitely felt with the heart. This boutique is no place to find overpriced designer clothing or useless knick-knacks; it is stocked to the brim with wigs, compression garments, and mastectomy bras and prostheses to heal beyond a medical level.

As the Boutique coordinator and certified professional I spend my days measuring, fitting and offering garments to men and women of all ages to help them maintain their dignity and find hope for normalcy on their journey toward recovery. Being present for such an emotional transition in these patients’ lives gives me the opportunity to be more like a guide and a counselor than a salesperson, offering advice on getting through these difficult times and armed with an arsenal of items to help our patients along the way.

Unfortunately, I am no stranger to the heartbreak of cancer. My father was diagnosed with and treated at Winship for lung cancer. Although he lost his battle with cancer in August 2003, my experience with my dad allows me to connect and empathize with our patients and their families as they are going through their experience. My passion for health care and patient interaction led me into this field. Every day allows me the opportunity to use my expertise of the health care industry and my product knowledge of all kinds of prosthetics. At the boutique we provide a wide range of products, including:

Wigs

Most frequently associated with the boutique is our huge variety of wigs. Between synthetic, real hair and customized, the boutique offers the best wigs found in the country. The wigs are made from real hair and can be brushed and styled like natural hair.

The patient’s cap size is measured, and hair is ordered to match the natural hair. After treatment has begun, the patient can go to a hair dresser, have his or her hair shaved off, and then have the wig styled the same way the natural hair was styled. Of course, if the patient would rather change hair style or color, there are several wigs in stock at the boutique ranging in texture, fit, color and cut.

Compression Garments

Compression sleeves and socks are fashioned to provide the perfect amount of constriction on different parts of the leg or arm to increase circulation. For patients suffering from vascular problems, compression garments can be immensely helpful.

Mastectomy Bras and Prostheses

Many patients come for help after having mastectomies during battles with breast cancer. With forms in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors, our products go a long way in making these women feel beautiful again. The prostheses also can prevent irreversible back problems that often persist from the weight of unevenly carrying only one breast. I often meet with women in pre-surgery consultations show and discuss options available to them after lumpectomies, reconstruction and mastectomies. A commonly requested item is a post-surgical camisole, which features drain pouches for immediate use after such a surgery. They look like tank tops and blend comfortably into any patient’s wardrobe.

The Radiance Boutique is open to patients Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and is located in the Patient and Family Resource Center at Winship Cancer Institute. For more information or to set up an appointment, call us at 404-778-1264.