“You have breast cancer.”
These four words can change your life forever, forcing you to face many complex medical, psychosocial, emotional, legal and financial challenges. There are many good sources of information available.
Beyond Pink TEAM recommends the Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) website www.lbbc.org to help understand breast cancer basics, get in-depth information about symptoms and side effects, quality-of-life issues and planning for the future. LBBC offers free books and brochures which address the unique needs of women newly diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer and women with metastatic (advanced) breast cancer. Access cutting-edge breast cancer news, read LBBC’s guides to understanding breast cancer, learn how to participate in clinical trials and meet the members of their medical advisory board.
Iowa cancer resources are available at www.canceriowa.org. The Iowa Cancer Consortium is an authoritative link to cancer resources in Iowa and beyond. You will find Cancer Information for Patients (hotlink), information about specific cancer types, local resources, treatment options, clinical trials and more.
There are many other good sources of information available to you. Learn about cancer, cancer terminology, treatment options and more at the American Cancer Society website and at the National Cancer Institute. Click here for more links to information on the web.
For those who would like to know more about the science of breast cancer, visit the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s (NBCC) website. Several Beyond Pink TEAM committee members have attended the NBCC Project LEAD. This is an intense 4 day science training course that provides an understanding of the disease and empowers attendees to become effective advocates.
Beyond Pink TEAM offers several educational and support events. Browse through our calendar of events for a listing of breast cancer conferences and educational programs we offer.
We have committee members available to speak to your group on a variety of topics involving breast cancer. We will match up a speaker to the type of information you would like to have presented. Contact Dee Hughes at 319-235-3179 for speaker information.
Getting Quality Integrated Cancer Care
A recent Institute of Medicine* report stated, “Cancer care today often provides state-of-the-science medical treatment, but fails to address the psychological and social (psychosocial) problems associated with cancer. This failure can compromise the effectiveness of health care and thereby adversely affect the health of cancer patients.”
Psychological and social problems created or made worse by cancer include the following:
- depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems
- lack of information or skills needed to manage the illness
- lack of transportation or other resources
- disruptions in work, school, and family life.
When these psychosocial issues are not provided for, it causes patients additional suffering, weakens the ability to follow prescribed treatments, and threatens patients’ return to health.
Today, a range of services are available to help patients and their families manage the psychosocial aspects of cancer. These services are often called “integrated cancer care,” “comprehensive cancer care,” or “community support services.”
We now know it is impossible to deliver good-quality cancer care without addressing patients’ medical health needs and patients’ psychosocial health needs.
All patients with cancer and their families should expect and receive cancer care that provides the following:
- counseling from a trained professional
- discharge planning
- nutritional support
- pastoral care
- patient education and support
- family education and support
- health and wellness education and support
- hospice care, if needed.
Being Treated as a Whole Person
You often have a choice about your cancer care provider. Ask your doctor or surgeon to refer you to a Commission on Cancer accredited cancer program that provides comprehensive cancer care. If you are already receiving cancer care, ask your physician how he/she plans to provide you with the above psychosocial services that are proven to be so important for positive health outcomes. Remember, your health care system must treat you as a whole person, not just a disease.
* The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public. The Institute of Medicine serves as adviser to the nation to improve health.