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I'm More than My Tumor
The National Cancer Institute published their regular bulletin recently, and in it was an article on treating a person with lung cancer as the whole person. What struck me the most was the idea of fatigue so overwhelming with cancer, and yet so rarely dealt with.
Dr. Betty Ferrell, PhD explains, “Fatigue is really the existential crisis of cancer.” Symptoms like fatigue, pain, and other inevitable side effects of cancer treatment were dominating the lives of her patients, but she often found that clinicians and researchers were reluctant to address or even acknowledge this fact.
She’s not alone in her concern. The Institute of Medicine's report, Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs suggests a standard of care that incorporates psychosocial services into routine biomedical care.
This standard of care would include processes to:
• Identify psychosocial health needs;
• Connect patients and families to needed services;
• Support them in managing the illness;
• Coordinate the psychosocial and biomedical healthcare; and
• Follow-up on care delivery to evaluate the effectiveness of the services.
Another important facet of treating the whole patient is involving families. “It is families, not just people, who get cancer,” Dr. Ferrell explained. A cancer diagnosis often brings emotional and financial burdens that impact others in the family, which points to another vital and strategic aspect of palliative care.
For more information, visit the Cancer Recovery Community website at
http://www.cancerrecoverycommunity.org/. It is a not for profit organization, working to support people living with cancer. We encourage a holistic self management approach to health.