Cancer Survivorship 101: Experts tout the importance of post-cancer care in Springfield

Health

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Cancer survivors and their families are invited to a workshop on Saturday in Springfield to learn about post cancer care.

The non-profit organization Survivor Journeys is the only group of its kind in western Massachusetts that focuses solely on recovery after a cancer cure. Its founder, Dr. Jay Burton said often times traditional health care systems lack this type of post-cancer care. Saturday’s workshop is a way for him to emphasize its importance.

“Hopefully be better able to care for cancer survivors, their families, and caregivers – and hopefully refer people appropriately to organizations like Survivor Journeys and others and help survivors with their lives.”

Dr. Jay Burton

Survivor Journeys is modeled after a much larger, more established network at Yale University in Connecticut. The Survivorship Program at the Yale Cancer Center follows the patient into recovery. The program has four cancer care centers. The cancer centers are separated from where patients received their chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

When a cancer patient visits a Yale cancer center they meet with a team medical experts that specialize in post cancer care.

“If for the social worker – if she feels you need more intensive therapy, she tries to arrange that for you. For people who want to lose weight or want to go on a more comprehensive diet program – we’ll set those resources aside.”

Associate Professor of Medicine, Tara Sanft

The team also includes a registered dietitian. Maura Harrigan encourages her patients to eat foods high in fiber and grains that are minimally processed. And, like our parents always insisted upon, she too recommends colorful fruits and vegetables. But the difference for a cancer survivor is the diet’s approach.

“Sometimes you have to make modifications to textures, so a lot of times you can modify foods for certain cancers. Let’s say for head and neck cancer patient who has difficulty swallowing.”

Maura Harrigan

Exercise is handled the same way. Physical Therapist Scott Capozza encourages patients to set small goals for themselves.

“It’s could be training for their first 5K, it could training for their first bike ride. It could something like after going through this I now want to hike the grand canyon.”

Scott Capozza

The survivorship team at Yale meets on a regular basis to discuss the ongoing needs of each patient. The duration of a patient’s care can vary. The patient is in the driver’s seat.

“Ultimately it’s great to see that that survivor is moving forward with their life and that they are taking control of their health. That’s really the important part.”

Scott Capozza

“Everyday that we have a clinic like this I walk out feeling more inspired, more motivated – you know to be a good human.”

Associate Professor of Medicine, Tara Sanft

EVENT: Cancer Survivorship 101

Saturday, June 8th from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Max’s Tavern at The Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

Cancer Survivorship 101 is designed to educate survivors, caregivers, loved ones, as well as anyone interested in learning more about factors that play a role before, during, and after cancer treatment.

To register visit www.SurvivorJourneys.org

This forum features national leaders in cancer survivorship from centers including:

  • Dana Farber Cancer Institute
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Smilow Cancer Hospital/Yale New Haven Health.  

This year’s keynote speaker is Larry Lucchino, Chairman of the Jimmy Fund, Non-Hogkin’s Lymphoma Survivor, Former President/CEO Boston Red Sox 2002-2015, Principal Owner/ Chairman of Pawtucket Red Sox. 

What’s next after a patient is diagnosed as cancer free?

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