John Stoddard Cancer Center
A Helping Hand in a Harrowing Time
Life Beyond Cancer
At the most basic of levels, cancer is a physical disease.
But in no way is it limited to just the body. Cancer also attacks the spirit and impacts emotional well-being of the patient and everyone around them. Even when the physical symptoms have been treated, the emotional toll often remains.
Matthew Hill, D.O., medical oncologist with Medical Oncology and Hematology Associates, says it is vital to care for the whole person - body, mind and spirit - when dealing with cancer.
"I refer patients to the Stoddard Survivorship Program to help them transition to life beyond the diagnosis and treatment phases," Dr. Hill says. "In the Survivorship Program, patients receive education that empowers them to continue their fight against cancer."
Survivorship is defined by the National Cancer Institute as the physical, psychosocial, and economic issues of cancer, from diagnosis until the end of life. It focuses on the health and life of a person with cancer beyond the diagnosis and treatment phases. Survivorship includes issues related to the ability to get health care and follow-up treatment, late effects of treatment, second cancers, and quality of life. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also part of the survivorship experience.
The Survivorship Program at John Stoddard Cancer Center combines the oversight of specialized cancer care professionals and an array of community-based services to help patients and family members move beyond diagnosis to get the most out of life.
It was empowerment Susan Dahlman gained from the program after her breast cancer diagnosis.
"I was referred because of some emotional issues I was dealing with," she says. "This program enlightened me in regard to the after affects of cancer, both physically and emotionally. It made me more aware of thing I can and should do as I continue this journey as a survivor."
Edra Fouts, RN, OCN, Stoddard Care Coordinator, says it's all about providing education and support for the survivor.
"Understandably, a diagnosis of cancer can cause patients to experience emotional, physical and spiritual upheaval," Edra says. "And that's why we are here - to provide reassurance they still have the power and ability to live a quality life as survivors, and to offer the tools and assistance that enable that to happen."
The tools provided in one-on-one sessions with Edra, support groups and other survivorship offerings provided Susan with a sense of control.
"After going through this program and learning so much about life after cancer, not only am I focusing on taking better care of myself physically, but I feel more in control emotionally," Susan says. "I have finally given myself permission to accept and verbalize my fears, acknowledging that it's okay and I don't have to be the strong one all of the time.
"Regardless," she continues, "I am loved for who I am."
Susan is not shy in encouraging others on their cancer journey to participate in the Survivorship Program.
"I was apprehensive about pursing this program," she says. "I was not convinced it was something I really needed. But I came away realizing what a valuable tool this has been to me.
"The care coordinators do a wonderful job and are there to provide support in any situation. I would highly recommend this program to any cancer survivor."