A Mother and her Two Daughters

05 October 2011

Never Lose Spirit at UAMS


Last night was another wonderful evening celebrating more hope for cancer patients at UAMS Rockefeller Cancer Institute. 

My first contact with the Cancer Institute was in the mid-90s, when Dr. Suzanne Klimberg hired me to help Rep. Josetta Wilkins pass the Arkansas Breast Cancer Act.  And after almost two-years of working on that project, I thought I knew everything there was to know about breast cancer.  But in February 2010, I found out I was wrong. 

Not long after my own diagnosis, I quickly figured out that the diagnosis of cancer and the aggressive treatments that follow oftentimes wreak havoc, not only on your body, but on your psychological and emotional state as well. 
  • There’s anxiety and fear that can often transcend into depression.
  • Depletion of normal energy levels along with erratic sleep patterns.
  • Pain management issues often associated with different treatments.
  • Drug therapies with powerful side-effects, like Neutropenia, neuropathy, bone density loss, dehydration and more. 
  • Major weight change and total loss of hair, which can definitely impact the body image.  It’s difficult to feel physically appealing when you look less like a human, and more like a naked mole rat. 
  • Some patients experience a change in appetite, or can no longer tolerate their usual diet after surgery or during treatment.
  • Difficulties at work, maybe even with family.  And for parents with cancer, we worry about our children, and then worry about the worries our children have about us. 
  • Some of us realize permanent changes to our bodies post surgery, changes that will be with us forever. 
  • Mounting bills, health insurance disputes and tough financial issues.
  • Well-meaning friends who advise us about cancer-fighting foods, spices, vitamins, supplements, organic teas, and miracle elixirs found online. 
  • But certainly the greatest challenge is our fear of dying, and quite possibly having to make peace with leaving this earth before you had planned. 
  • And for survivors – there’s the constant worry about relapse and having to go through this all over again. 

 The bottom line is this:  Fighting cancer is not for the faint of heart.  It can be overwhelming, all encompassing.  We find ourselves involved with so many physical and emotional issues that are new.  And most of the time all we need is some medically sound advice; someone to answer our questions, new coping skills that will give us strength and renew our spirit of hope. 

Of all the issues mentioned, the good news is this.  There is a professional at my cancer center, UAMS, who can help with every one of them.  But for a patient at a huge medical facility, sometimes it can be difficult to find them

The initiative launched Monday night is called Never Lose Spirit – a renewed focus on patient support services intended to address the emotional, physical and lifestyle changes associated with a cancer diagnosis.  Through the sale of a beautiful glass sculpture designed by Hendrix graduate and Pine Bluff artist James Hayes, hopefully we will accomplish two very important things:
  • Re-package existing services found at UAMS to help patients better navigate themselves through the many services offered.  UAMS is more than a multi-disciplined health care center, and all patients have the luxury of a plethora of medical and psychological resources.  We just need to make sure that patients know how to find them. 
  • Offer even more patient services that deal with the whole being.  I envision this Institute soon employing patient navigators and offering classes on nutrition, meditation, relaxation, journaling and more – all of them complementary therapies that can help us maintain emotional health during the fight. 

Here’s a link to the initiative, including the ability to purchase one of these lovely glass sculptures to support our efforts. 


The UAMS Rockefeller Cancer Institute is a powerful force when it comes to fighting cancer.  And with many thanks to the financial underwriting of this initiative by Judy Tenanbaum, Vince Insalaco, UAMS and the Rockefeller Cancer Institute will soon become known not only as the very best in terms of cancer treatment, it will become known as the very best in patient support services, as well. 

With many thanks to UAMS and the Rockefeller Cancer Institute leadership team.  Here’s to their vision for treating the whole patient!  

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing the link. This initiative for a good cause must be highly supported by people. Nice sharing. Thanks again.

    treatment centers for cancer

    ReplyDelete
  2. Congratulations! This piece has been missing from our cancer center. Besides donating money what else can I do to help and support the effort?

    Sherri Jo McLemore

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  3. Awesome Stacy, this is really needed and I'm so gratified that you and the others were able go do this. Congratulatons to all!

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  4. Hi gugys,thanks for this blog.I am cancer specialist Dr yuth martin.I love this blog.Because topic of this blog is different.Its very helpfull to my cancer patient.never lose spirit this small sentence contain very big meaning.plz I request you to add some cancer related info.like cancer ask question

    ReplyDelete

 
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