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Beating cancer

Early detection helps woman conquer lung cancer.

By Susan Skog and Kim Vecchio

A busy lady beats cancer. Dona Ammons sits with her dogs, Mr. Beau Jangles and Bambi. (Photo by Dave Rizzotto)

A busy lady beats cancer. Dona Ammons sits with her dogs, Mr. Beau Jangles and Bambi. (Photo by Dave Rizzotto)

When Loveland resident Dona Am­mons developed a pain near her ribs she figured it was a result of her osteo­porosis. Assuming she had a bruised or broken rib, she went to her doctor to get it checked out.

“On April 1, I went to see an orthopedic doctor, who took an X-ray,” said Ammons. “He confirmed I didn’t have anything wrong with my ribs, but he said, ‘I see something in the X-ray that bothers me.’”

After a chest X-ray and CT scan, Am­mons visited with University of Colo­rado Health pulmonologist, Dr. Richard Milchak. He showed Ammons the mass on her lung. He ordered a biopsy and three days later, took Ammons’ case to UCHealth’s newly created Lung Nodule Clinic in northern Colorado. That’s when the cogs were set in motion for Ammons’ treatment plan with her team.

On April 26, after meeting with a team consisting of radiologists and pathologists, as well as pulmonologists, medical and ra­diation oncologists, surgeons and patient navigators, Milchak called Ammons to tell her she needed additional testing.

“With the advent of the Lung Nodule Clinic, we may see a patient on Wednes­day and hopefully get him into a diag­nostic procedure within a few days to a week,” Milchak said. “Then, a diagno­sis can be more quickly reached and a treatment plan in place within weeks, not months. That time is valuable when you’re treating lung cancer.”

Early detection an important piece

UCHealth is on the frontlines of one of the most urgent, cancer-fighting pursuits in the country: the drive for early detec­tion and better treatment of lung cancer.

Though rates are dropping, lung cancer is still the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the United States, according to the American Lung Associa­tion. It causes more deaths than the next three most common cancers combined: colon, breast and pancreatic. About 159,260 Americans will die from lung cancer this year, the association estimates.

Part of the problem is that the majority of lung cancer diagnoses are made too late, said Dr. Matthew Sorensen, medical director of UCHealth’s oncology service line in northern Colorado.

But Sorensen’s team is working hard to reverse that trend and boost survival rates through the Lung Nodule Clinic. For the first time in northern Colorado, patients benefit from a more efficient approach to detecting and treating lung cancer.

“The lack of communication among providers is one of the biggest com­plaints patients and their families have,” Sorensen said. “There is nothing more frustrating than having two contradictory opinions given to patients at two succes­sive appointments. Now, after I sit down with a patient and their family, and shake their hands as I leave the room to put their treatment plan into place, they don’t need to ask, ‘Are you sure you’ve talked to my surgeon or my radiation oncologist?’ They know we’re all on board, and we’re all aware of the treatment plan.”

A new tattoo

Ammons, who was diagnosed with Stage 1B lung cancer in April, said the clinic was key to her beating cancer. The day after she spoke with Milchak, the Lung Nodule Clinic’s patient navigator, Ladelle West, called Ammons to help schedule her appointments in the right order, coordinate communication among all providers and stay on top of each step of her treatment plan.

West is like the conductor of a sophisti­cated symphony, weaving together all the medical notes. Milchak calls West “the most important person in this process.” And Dr. Kirk DePriest, UCHealth pulmo­nologist added, “like the quarterback to our entire team.”

“Ladelle was very helpful. She handled everything for me,” Ammons said. “She set up all of my appointments and kept me informed. I never had to worry if the physicians were talking to each other be­cause they were constantly communicat­ing and everyone was on the same page. It moved along smoothly.”

Ammons added, “I am a busy lady caring for my dogs, Mr. Beau Jangles and Bambi. I’m also the choir director at my church, I belong to a train club and I play in a uku­lele band. Ladelle and my team handled everything so I could go on living.”

By May 7, Ammons had completed her tests and was scheduled to see Dr. Ann Stroh, UCHealth medical oncologist, who coordinated radiation treatments with UCHealth radiation oncologist Dr. Gwen Lisella. On May 20, Ammons was mapped for her five radiation treatments and on May 29, she had a trial run be­fore beginning her treatments.

“I didn’t know what mapping meant except that I’d get a tattoo,” said a smil­ing Ammons. “At 76 years, I was going to get my first tattoo. Turns out, they were outlining the treatment area, and the tat­toos were small dots to line me up with the machine to make sure I was receiv­ing radiation where I needed it.”

As of June 11, Ammons is cancer-free, two and half months after being diag­nosed with lung cancer.

On Ammons’ last day of treatment, the radiation staff gave her a little white cake with a candle that said “happy day.” However, her last day of treatment won’t be the last day she sees her team. Ammons has multiple follow-up visits scheduled with Milchak, Stroh and her primary care doctor. She will also have a PET scan every three months to make sure the cancer does not return.

“Nobody is letting loose of me,” she said. “Makes me feel so secure that they are following up and taking care of me. They weren’t going to drop off at the end when I finished my treatments.”

It’s that kind of over-the-top support, collaboration and excellence that fires Sorensen up to strive to make the Lung Nodule Clinic at the new Cancer Center one of the best in the nation.

“It’s been so rewarding for me to see the most talented cancer care providers I’ve ever seen come together for the com­plete care of patients,” he said.

Ammons’ team consisted of doctors who bring their expertise to the table to develop the best treatment plan for each patient after discussing everything from the patient’s risk factors to the top drug, clinical trial, surgical and radiation options. In addition to radiologists and pathologists, the team includes pulmon­ologists, medical and radiation oncolo­gists, surgeons and patient navigators.

 

By Nicole Caputo

Think about your most memorable conversation. Does it bring back fond memories? Leave you with a certain feeling?

Me, my dog Brady and my dad on a wooded trail in rural Minnesota. Have you had a life-changing meaningful conversation?

Me, my dog Brady and my dad on a wooded trail in rural Minnesota. Have you had a life-changing conversation?

My dad and I are strolling along a forest path, the morning fog is clearing over the treetops and, with a prideful tone, he tells me his secrets to living a meaningful life. It is a conversation I’ll never forget and, more importantly, one I won’t need to wish we had when he’s gone.

Many conversations define our lives. But one topic we shy away from is talking about what happens when a loved one dies. It’s not a comfortable topic to think about let alone discuss. But important? Hugely. And when the time comes, what may have been hard decisions will come more easily.

Like learning secrets to a meaningful life, it is one conversation we don’t want to wish we had after our loved ones pass away.

Why have the conversation?

Statistics show that most of us don’t want to burden our family with tough decisions after we die. The best way to ease that burden is to sit down and talk. Whether you’re a parent or the child, don’t wait to have the conversation. Sit down over a cup of coffee and talk.

The unanswered questions that arise after a loved one dies can lead to stress, and even anger among family members. When a loved one passes, family members want to carry out last wishes, not fight amongst themselves on what those wishes may have been.

According to The Conversation Project, an organization that is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care, each conversation will empower you and your loved ones to live and die the way that you choose.

The conversation should include all your desires, from the contents of your will and the affairs you still need to get in order, to where you want to receive care and what kinds of aggressive treatment you may want (or not want).

Before you have the conversation with your kids about your end-of-life wishes think about these questions. Write down your answers and have them by your side during the conversation(or send these questions to your parent(s) so they can think about them before you talk):

 

Click to view full size
  • What do I value the most?
  • Do I have any particular concerns about my health?
  • Are there any disagreements or family tensions I’m concerned about?
  • What matters to me at the end of life?
  • How long do I want to receive medical care?
  • What role do I want your loved ones to play?

Here are some useful tips for everyone to think about during the conversation:

  • Be patient. Some people may need more time to process information.
  • Let the conversation happen naturally. Don’t steer it with specific talking points.
  • Don’t judge. A “good” death means different things to different people.
  • Nothing is set in stone. You and your loved ones can always change your minds as circumstances shift.
  • Every attempt at the conversation is valuable.
  • This is the first of many conversations; you don’t have to cover everyone or everything right now.

The hardest part of starting the conversation is making time. Pick the next family birthday party or major holiday to sit down and chat. One conversation won’t solve everything, but it will allow you to share what matters most to you. It will be a conversation that helps define your life.

The University of Colorado Health Aspen Club has adopted principles from The Conversation Project and is hosting a series of classes and events (The Conversation Project and Death Cafe’s) to help you start the conversation.

To learn more, go to UCHealth’s Aspen Club or The Conversation Project.

 This blog was written by Nicole Caputo, marketing strategist for University of Colorado Health.

UpsetAndPregnant_13822426Mediumby Karla Oceanak

Julie’s mom drank alcohol while she was pregnant with Julie and everything turned out OK, so Julie figured it would be OK for her to have a drink now and then during her own pregnancy.

Eva’s not ashamed to say that she smokes pot. It’s legal here in Colorado, and besides, cannabis is a natural substance. And now that she’s pregnant, it helps with the nausea.

Ever since she was in a car accident a few years ago, Tanja has relied on prescription medication to cope with the lingering pain. She hasn’t told her OB/GYN that she still takes Tramadol sometimes, even though she’s three months pregnant.

While these particular women are fictitious, their stories are essentially true. Many women in northern Colorado continue to use drugs and alcohol while they’re pregnant. And in 2013 at Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies, alcohol, pot and Tramadol were the three substances most commonly found in their babies’ systems after delivery.

The trouble is, when a pregnant mom drinks or uses drugs, the baby drinks and uses drugs too. And while we’ve all heard stories about mothers who drank or used and their babies were born perfectly healthy, the truth is that there’s no known safe level of drugs or alcohol for developing babies.

Kelly Bernatow, women and children nurse navigator at PVH, points out that drug and alcohol use during pregnancy does not have a typical face. “Where we’re really seeing an influx is in the upper- to middle-class.”
“There’s not enough medical research to know how much—if any—of any given substance might be OK,” said Bernatow. “So, the only safe amount of drugs and alcohol for a pregnant mom to consume is none.”

Pills_5239816MediumStill, Bernatow emphasizes that she and the other nurses and doctors at UCHealth are there to help moms and babies, even when the moms are using.

Often babies who’ve been exposed to drugs or alcohol in utero are born prematurely, requiring a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit before they’re well enough to go home. Some substance-exposed newborns are underweight. Still others are born with addiction symptoms.

While moms are laboring at the hospital, PVH and MCR nurses ask them routine questions about their smoking, alcohol and drug use during pregnancy along with other screening questions required for the Colorado Birth Certificate and Vital Statistics. “The screening determines if the baby will be tested,” said UCHealth and Larimer County Community Health Nurse Karen Yost. “A counselor may also visit with mom to see if the family could be helped by various community services.” Mothers who admit to or are suspected of use may be asked to submit a urine sample for testing. Alternately, a sample of their babies’ urine, umbilical cord or meconium (the baby’s first bowel movement) may be collected and sent to the lab for drug testing.

“When the test is positive, we work with Child Protective Services (CPS) to get help for the family,” said Bernatow. “We know that addictions are hard to overcome and that pregnancy is often the most successful time for recovery from substances. Our goal, always, is healthy families and a healthy community.”

Positive results are also sent to the baby’s pediatrician or family care doctor. Of the 738 combined PVH and MCR samples sent for drug and alcohol testing in 2013, 178 tested positive, which means they contained levels higher than a designated threshold. Samples that contain drugs or alcohol at levels below the threshold do not trigger a call to CPS.

Only very rarely does Child Protective Services separate mom and baby, said Bernatow. “That’s the last thing we want to do,” she added. It’s almost always in the family’s best interest to keep the family together, and with CPS involved, moms who are using drugs and alcohol have resources to get the help they need.

If you’re using
If you’re pregnant and using drugs or alcohol (or care about someone who is), even if you think it’s a safe amount, call Connections at 970.221.5551 for more information.

Family Of FourBY ANDREW KENSLEY, UCHEALTH

As of January, more than 15,000 Larimer County residents qualified for Medicaid and 34,000 were eligible for subsidies in the Colorado Health Benefits exchange, according to the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. The Family Medicine Center of Fort Collins, part of the University of Colorado Health, is doing its part to meet the needs of those with limited access to affordable health care, from babies to retirees.

“We see any patient in any setting,” said Dr. Janell Wozniak, a physician at FMC and a member of the faculty for its family medicine resident program. “We provide great services to the community for patients who otherwise wouldn’t have access.”

Creating a safety net

According to Wozniak, FMC is considered a “safety net” clinic, meaning that it accepts patients who are underinsured or uninsured. She estimates that FMC serves 8,000 unique patients every year, with 70 percent of those having either no coverage or a very limited variety. The latter is defined as depending on Medicaid, Medicare with Medicaid as secondary coverage, or Colorado Indigent Care Program (CICP), the state-subsidized program for patients who don’t qualify for, or cannot obtain, medical insurance.

In addition to traditional medical care, which can include home and nursing home visits, FMC offers counseling for individuals, couples and families, as well as lifestyle coaching and biofeedback. Other services include an integrated mental health program, on-site psychiatric services and counselors, and through a partnership with the Health District of Larimer County, access to social workers and a prescription assistance program. Through its lifestyle medicine program, FMC also offers free counseling services for issues like tobacco or smoking cessation, weight loss, diet, exercise and chronic illness management.

“There’s an added level of complexity to some of these patients,” Wozniak said, citing examples such as a lack of transportation, and an inability to afford medications or the electric bill required to run a home oxygen machine. “We find resources to help subsidize those things, funded through donations. We have to make sure that patients have access.”

Specialized prenatal care

Through its Poudre Valley Prenatal program, FMC works hard to serve a high-risk subset of those with limited healthcare coverage: pregnant women. Staffed by FMC residents and OB-GYN’s from the Women’s Clinic of Fort Collins, PVP provides specialized prenatal
care, helping to deliver about 500 babies a year, and totals 6,000 inpatient and 15,000 outpatient visits a year. No matter how a woman seeks prenatal care — through an emergency room, Medicaid offices, facilities like FMC or Salud Family Health Center (another Fort Collins safety net clinic), or area clinics — if she has little or no health coverage, she can access the program.

Dr. Breanna Thompson is a family physician at Salud who facilitates a group prenatal class that targets the same demographic seen by Wozniak and her FMC colleagues. Thompson says there is considerable data to show that pregnant women in lower socioeconomic brackets are at higher risk for dangerous conditions. As such, they tend to benefit most from education and support.

“Visits for prenatal care tend to result in higher birth rates, less preterm labor
and better control of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia,” Thompson said. “The (group) participants receive significantly more education about pregnancy because
of the amount of time that we’re able to spend with them. Rather than seeing each
of them for ten minutes, we see all of them together for two hours and they are able to
have a more enriching experience.”

Groups typically consist of about eight, and are led by a physician (Thompson, mostly), a behavioral health provider, and a maternal and family health coordinator. The sessions can take up to two hours, partners are invited, and childcare is provided. For Thompson, one of the greatest benefits for the participants is in creating bonds with others going through similar situations.

“The amount of help that people get from each other in a group setting is really significant,” she said. “It takes a village.”

Expanded access

Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in January 2014, Wozniak says that FMC’s patient list has swelled, including approximately 500 new Medicaid patients in the past couple of months alone, many of whom had no prior coverage. The increase in volume will require some adjustment, and dealing with complex social issues can result in more stress for providers. But Wozniak looks at it as yet another chance to help people who need it.

“It’s so much more rewarding for most of us who work in this setting when you’re able to help someone meet needs that they otherwise would not meet,” she said. “Accommodating this influx of volume has been and will continue to be a challenge for us, and we’ll continue to work internally and with the health system to see if there are ways we can expand access to this population of people.”

Andrew Kensley, the author of this article, is a local freelance writer and a physical therapist for Poudre Valley Hospital.

Group Of Children Running In ParkSummer’s here. Get out and enjoy the blue skies, green grass and warm golden sun. But first, read some safety tips from our experts: Pediatrician, Dr. Amy Driscoll of University of Colorado Health PediatricsJanet Werst, injury prevention coordinator for UCHealth and Dr. Peyton Taliaferro of University of Colorado Health Family Medicine – South Loveland.

Fun in the sun

We all know that too much sun can result in a painful sunburn, but not everyone realizes that a sun-overdose can cause serious problems in the long term.

“Down the road, a sunburn in a young child has a much higher risk of turning into skin cancer than a sunburn in an adult,” Driscoll explained.

At our high Colorado altitudes, where UV rays are more intense, it’s essential to keep kids well sunscreened whenever they’re outdoors (even on cloudy days). Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before heading out and reapply every couple of hours. Water reflects sunlight so swimmers and boaters need to reapply sunscreen every hour, even if the label says “waterproof.”

“Older kids may feel peer pressure to get a tan to be beautiful,” Driscoll added. “Parents should have discussions with them about body image and the fact that there is no ‘safe’ amount to tan.”

Finally, don’t forget the sunglasses.

“If kids start wearing sunglasses at a young age, it will help them avoid cataracts when they’re older,” she said.

Water safety

Splashing in the cool water on a hot summer’s day is one of childhood’s most enduring pleasures — but safety must come first. Drowning is the third leading cause of death for children under age 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“Young kids have large, heavy heads compared to the rest of their bodies,” Driscoll said. “When they fall into water, they usually go head first. This increases their risk of drowning even in something as shallow as an inflatable kiddie pool or a five-gallon bucket.”
The solution? Constant and active adult supervision whenever kids are in or near water.
“Eyes on the child,” Werst said. “And everyone should wear their life jackets if they’re in a boat. In fact, it’s the law for kids 16 and under.”
Also, remove water risks on your property. Empty the kiddie pool after each use. Even pre-teens and teens need to be educated about never swimming alone and never diving into water where the depth is unknown.

And make sure children know how to swim. Swimming lessons are a must for kids age four and older, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Poison proofing

“When families start gardening and working in their yards, they often use things that are good for plants but toxic for kids,” Driscoll said. Poisoning is the fourth most common cause of death in children.

Keep fertilizers and pesticides in a locked cabinet or on a high shelf that kids can’t reach. Never reuse food or beverage containers to store chemicals or motor oil as young children might try to eat or drink from them. Know which plants or berries in your yard might be poisonous. And always keep the poison center hotline number posted prominently in your home: 1.800.222.1222.

Smart cycling

Summer’s a great time for family bike rides in northern Colorado — as long as everyone follows the rules of the road and wears a helmet.

“Check to make sure all helmets fit properly and that they’re not more than three years old,” Werst said. “The Styrofoam in older helmets breaks down, which makes the helmet ineffective.”
Safe Kids Larimer County  coordinates helmet-fit checks and provides low-cost bike helmets to families who need assistance. Last year they gave out more than 1,700 helmets.

If parents want their kids to be safe bicyclists, they need to model bike safety by wearing helmets and following smart cycling behavior themselves.

“Kids do what their parents do,” Werst said. “For example, studies have shown that in families in which parents buckle their children in the car but don’t buckle themselves, down the road, when the kids become teenagers and start driving, they don’t buckle up either.”

Helmet Heads

Watch this video as Dr. Peyton Taliaferro explains how to properly fit a helmet following the “Four Ss” of helmet safety:

The Four Ss reviewed:

Snug: Even without the strap fastened, the rider should be able to shake her head without the helmet falling off.
Straight: The helmet should be square on the head, almost level with the eyebrows — not tipped back or angled forward.
Strap: The straps should go around the ear then meet below the chin. The straps should form a “V” around each ear.
Snap: The straps must be snapped together. When buckled, the strap under the chin should be just loose enough to fit one finger.

Enjoying time outside made easier by implementing these five tips from doctors at Colorado Health Medical Group.

Enjoying activity and exercise made easier by implementing these tips from primary care doctors with University of Colorado Health

Stretching, regular activity crucial to staying healthy and injury free

There’s nothing like warm, long days to get us active. Don’t let a twisted ankle or muscle sprain ruin your plans. To stay injury-free this summer, follow these tips from three family medicine doctors with University of Colorado Health.

Warm it up
Loy--0004_jpgMove and stretch before hitting the trail, volleyball court and other physical challenges. “Cold muscles don’t absorb shock or impact as well as warm muscles,” said Dr. Brienne Loy of UCHealth’s Family Medicine at Harmony Campus.

Dr. Kevin Felix with UCHealth’s Family Medicine in north Loveland said, “When people go from zero to 60, we see a lot of muscle strains and pulls.” He recommends starting slow and building up the pace gradually. Warming up is especially important in such high impact sports as volleyball and basketball.

“Knee and IT Band injuries are another possible result of improper stretching,” said Dr. Eric Hess with UCHealth’s Internal Medicine at Prospect. The IT band runs from the hip to the knee along the outer thigh. It easily tightens up, and without stretching, tugs at the knee joint, causing pain.

Dr. Kevin Felix

Dr. Kevin Felix

Be an “all-week” warrior
With busy work-day lives, some people only have weekends or days off to do the sports and exercises they love. It’s tempting to be weekend warriors and take it to the extreme—playing three rounds of golf or hiking a summit. That’s a recipe for injury and may discourage people from more exercise, doctors say. “Weekend warriors run a higher risk for joint and muscle injuries,” Dr. Loy said. Dr. Felix’s advice is to be an all-week warrior. In short, stick to a routine. “Weekend warriors tend to do too much and get injured or experience overly sore muscles,” Dr. Felix says. “When this happens, they feel discouraged and don’t want to be active the next time.” Sitting on the job can cause back pain, something that can be remedied through an exercise routine. “Without regular exercise, hamstrings shrink up, get tight and pull on back muscles,” Dr. Hess said. To counteract the problem, Hess recommends doing exercises to strengthen your lower back and abdomen at least three days a week, along with cardio workouts and stretching. Dr. Felix suggests weight training that uses all muscle groups and mixing up workout routines. To establish balanced, sturdy muscles, work out most days and do a variety of activities, not just one sport, he added.

Dr. Eric Hess

Dr. Eric Hess

Keep your core strong
Many people may not know exactly where their core area is. To find out, draw a line from the belly button and around the back; this is where core muscles are located. “When core muscles are strong they support the spine, pelvis and shoulders and ready them for impact during sports,” said Dr. Loy, who recommends Pilates and yoga to build core strength. Felix emphasizes that core strength is especially important for nurses and other employees who do a lot of heavy lifting on the job: “People with good core strength in their lower backs and abdomens are less likely to injure themselves.”

Fitting in exercise on the job
New federal recommendations suggest people stay active throughout the day versus getting in their exercise all at one time. “Exercising 10 minutes several times a day has been shown to increase metabolism and decrease heart rate,” says Dr. Felix. “It’s equivalent to taking medicine and having a low dose in your bloodstream throughout the day.” Some people wisely fit in 10-minute bouts of exercise during a work day by walking up stairs rather than taking elevators; walking during breaks an lunch periods; parking far away from the office or store; and doing such simple office exercises as wall squats and pushups, knee lifts and even planks if there is room on the office or break room floor.

When to see a doctor
If a person has twisted an ankle, tweaked the back or has knee pain when walking up or down stairs — pains that just won’t go away — it’s time to see a doctor. “If it’s been a few days and the pain or swelling is getting worse, not better, get it checked out,” Dr. Felix said. Added Dr. Loy: “The same is true if you feel numbness, tingling or weakness.” Remember this tip: Numbness and tingling in your arms or legs can be a sign of a neck or lower back injury, among other things.

Have you ever felt scared, unsure or alone? Most people experience all of these emotions when they hear the words “You’ve got cancer.”

A good cancer program treats the whole patient. Beyond state-of-the-art therapies, a trusted cancer program offers patient navigation, emotional counseling, support groups, physical rehab and complementary massage.

Patient Navigators

The cancer journey is often confusing, frightening, and costly. Wouldn’t it be easier if you had a skilled, compassionate

Oncology patient navigator nurses (from lf to rt) Shelley Nielsen, Patti Frelund, Nina Elledge, Kathy Baars, Ladelle West.

nurse by your side to help you understand your diagnosis and treatment, access financial assistance, and cope on the dark days?

A Patient Navigator program, such as the one offered by University of Colorado Health, matches cancer patients with a specially trained oncology nurse navigator. As the term suggests, the nurse helps patients navigate the complexities of cancer care. The navigator’s role is to listen to clients’ questions and concerns and connect them with the best resources.

Counseling Services

Oncology counselors (from lf to rt) Anne Marie Cronin, Marianne Pearson, Ann-Marie Bowman

“Cancer is a crisis,” said Marianne Pearson, program manager of psychosocial oncology with UCHealth. “Before my department began providing services, free counseling for those affected by cancer was a missing link in our community.”

Marianne and her colleagues counsel patients and family members in both Larimer and Weld Counties. In addition to running several support groups, Marianne and her team provide therapy to individuals, couples and families on an as-needed basis –during treatment as well as months or years after. All counseling services are free of charge.

Cancer Rehabilitation

We all know that cancer takes a tremendous toll on the body. Some patients are in the middle of chemotherapy and radiation; some have completed treatment. Almost all are extremely weak and battling profound fatigue. That’s why a good cancer program will recommend that a cancer patient keep moving. Look for a program like the one offered in the rehab gym at Poudre Valley Hospital.

“Fatigue is the biggest complaint people come in with” said the program’s founder and Physical Therapist Jeff Eagan. “And it’s the kind of fatigue that extra sleep doesn’t fix. The good news is that exercise does. Physical activity also helps them get their strength and quality of life back.”

“I’ve seen exercise help with appetite, sleep, cognitive function and depression,” said Eagan. “For a lot of these people, it’s the first thing they’ve been able to actively do since their diagnosis to help themselves feel better. It gives them back control over their own bodies.”

ONCOLOGY MASSAGE helps with pain, sleep, nausea and fatigue.

Oncology massage helps with pain, sleep, nausea and fatigue.

Cancer Massage

More and more, clinical research shows the benefits for massage during cancer. Cancer massage helps with sleep, pain relief, nausea control, decreased fatigue and depression. At Poudre Valley Hospital, all cancer inpatients are offered free massage therapy.

Survivorship clinic team: (from lf to rt) Marianne Pearson, Jeff Eagan, Lisa Radice

Cancer Transitions

Cancer’s not over, even when the tumors are gone. Patients should seek out a program designed to help cancer survivors make the transition from active treatment to post treatment care.

In UCHealth’s Survivorship program, participants learn tips for stress management, transitioning back to your family doctor, and finding a new normal after treatment ends.

A well-rounded cancer program does more than treat the disease inside your body. It helps you understand what you’re going through and offers support in areas you might never have considered. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, look for a program that fully suits your needs.

Learn more about these support services.

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