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Cancer Survivorship Program at St. John’s Health

Support is available to help survivors and their loved ones heal from the challenges that can result from cancer and its treatments. St. John’s Health Foundation has provided funding for an Oncology Survivorship Pilot Program to offer new and expanded services to improve your physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychosocial wellbeing.

Services include:

Yoga: Research suggests that participating in a yoga program can improve one’s quality of life by reducing anxiety and fatigue and increasing sense of mental wellbeing. In addition, it can be used to manage symptoms commonly associated with cancer treatment such as sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, pain, and nausea. It is also associated with an increase in flexibility, balance, range of motion, and muscle tone.

Healing Touch: Healing Touch works with your body’s natural energy to promote healing and provide a deep sense of relaxation. Healing Touch providers use their hands above or on the body, using gentle touch with the intent of clearing, energizing, and balancing the human and environmental energy fields.

Massage Therapy: Oncology massage is the modification of existing massage therapy techniques in order to safely work with complications of cancer and cancer treatment. For people living with cancer, massage is still a viable option for relaxation, decreasing anxiety, reducing pain and nausea, as well as many other potential benefits. Massage is a wonderful respite from cancer treatments, invasive procedures, and some side effects of medicine.

Wellness Coaching: Wellness coaches help clients reach optimal health and well-being. Wellness coaches guide clients in mindful thinking and doing work that builds confidence by addressing a holistic health approach. Coaches help clients set realistic goals and harness strength necessary to overcome obstacles. Obstacles are viewed as opportunities to learn and grow.

Mindfulness Tools: Mindfulness can help you combat the overwhelm that comes from being a care-giver. In fact, it can help anyone dealing with the stress and anxiety that results from uncertainty or facing difficult emotions.

The stress and fatigue that accompanies healthcare workers, patients, and their families is especially challenging, and SJH is pleased to be offering a program specifically designed to support you.

While mindfulness – the act of focusing your attention on the moment, acknowledging your thoughts, physical sensations, and surroundings without judgment – is simple, it actually takes practice. In our new program, we’ll share ways to use breath, sound, even your own body to ground yourself in the present. Regular practice reduces stress, improves resilience, and increases compassion, especially for yourself. Join us for weekly sessions and optional conversation and coaching.

Physical and Occupational Therapy: Cancer and its treatments can lead to fatigue, impaired range of motion, pain, skin changes, and swelling in limbs, which can in turn cause interruptions in how individuals perform their self-care, work, leisure, or social activities.

Our physical and occupational therapists are certified in oncology rehabilitation as well as treatment of lymphatic disorders. Oncology-specific physical and occupational rehabilitation programs strive to reduce fatigue, improve physical function, decrease pain, restore a patient’s ability to participate in activities that enrich their lives, and re-establish normal function of the body’s elimination system to encourage healing and wellness.

Spiritual Direction: The practice of spiritual direction offers you ongoing, in-depth conversations with a trained professional to help you cultivate a rich understanding of your interior life — a connection to your soul — and to the sacred, which is found in the world around you. The work of spiritual direction is to assist you in responding to your life in ways that promote personal and relational healing and wellbeing.

Acupuncture: Acupuncture is the insertion of disposable, ultra-thin needles into specific points on the body which stimulates the nervous system to encourage the body’s natural physiology and functions. It is a safe and effective treatment for many symptoms and side-effects associated with cancer and cancer treatment. These include pain, muscle tension, neuropathy, dry mouth, headache, hot flashes, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, lymphedema, stress, depression, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, diarrhea, and constipation. Acupuncture is used to treat illness but can also enhance your overall sense of wellbeing and quality of life during and after cancer treatment.

Speech Therapy: Our oncology speech-language pathologists (SLPs), also referred to as speech therapists, are skilled in evaluating and treating swallowing, voice, and cognitive deficits in patients undergoing cancer treatment. Our speech therapists will focus on improving a patient’s ability to eat and drink, communicate, and navigate daily tasks.

Chemotherapy-Induced Cognitive Impairment (CICI), also commonly known as “chemo fog” or “chemo brain,” is an adverse effect experienced by some patients during and after certain kinds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Patients may experience short- or long-term difficulty with concentrating, remembering, conversing, and completing routine tasks, leading to decreased independence and quality of life.

Patients who undergo chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery, especially for head and neck cancers, often experience difficulty swallowing. Vocal quality and/or loudness may also be negatively impacted. Speech therapists can improve vocal loudness and quality by focusing on breath support and vocal use and hygiene, as well as exercises.

We are here to partner with individuals with cancer and be alongside them throughout the journey.

Nutrition Services: Food and nutrition plays an instrumental role throughout cancer treatment. Individuals going through cancer treatment may experience changes in weight, taste, and appetite, and are often faced with an overwhelming amount of information about what they should and should not eat. St. John’s Health registered dietitians are available to meet during oncology clinic visits as a partner in treatment and reliable resource for food related topics such as:

  • Foods with cancer fighting components
  • How to maintain a healthy weight during treatment
  • Ways to manage taste/smell changes
  • Foods to eat when dealing with diarrhea, constipation, or nausea
  • Foods to keep you strong during and after treatment

For additional resources, please visit the links below:

NCI Eating Hints Booklet

Food & Nutrition Fact Sheets

Side Effects Fact Sheets

Meals with a Mission: Meals with a Mission is a program that provides a weekly meal for cancer patients, their families, and caregivers. A group of volunteers prepares cancer specific meals. Nutrition plays a key role in recovery. During treatment, appetites can be suppressed from the effects of treatment. Meals are healthy and provide essential vitamins, minerals, and protein. Due to the current health crisis, meals are frozen and can be picked up in the oncology department.

Oncology Support Group: The Beyond Cancer support group meets on the first and third Thursday of the month, from 4:00 to 5:00 pm. Due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, this group meets virtually. Support group activities are for those affected by cancer. Led by an Oncology social worker and nursing staff.

Services are available for Oncology patients, family members, and caregivers. During this pilot program, there will be no costs for participants.

For more information, please contact Lynnette Gaertner at 307.739.6190.
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