Fighting cancer requires a holistic approach

By Mark Glavinic and Krisytn Fazzalaro

Categories: Featured News, Cancer
Battling cancer can take its toll not only physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

This is why embracing a cancer care program that goes beyond the surgeons who remove tumors and the oncologists who manage clinical therapies is vital and an integral part of survivorship.

Many community hospitals, including Hoag, are participating in a national specialized oncology certification program that embodies this comprehensive approach to care.

The Survivorship Training and Rehabilitation (STAR) Program takes a holistic approach to battling cancer in an effort to make treatment more manageable and less burdensome for patients.

Many patients fighting cancer don't think to bring up concerns about fatigue, pain, depression or feeling spiritually unsettled, and often they can feel isolated, fearful and uncertain.

In many cases, patients submit to the idea these feelings and experiences are simply a part of what it means to go through treatment, but this doesn't have to be the case.

You don't have to suffer just because you have cancer.

The STAR Program encourages medical professionals from across disciplines, including physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, dieticians and mental health professionals, to team up and devise a comprehensive course of treatment to address complications that can negatively impact a patient's quality of life.

Any physician, therapist or nurse who might come in contact with a cancer patient is trained to look beyond the scope of their specialty and consider additional ways to improve care.

Pain management, increasing strength and energy, supporting emotional health and improving daily well-being are all part of this multi-disciplinary approach to cancer care.

The STAR program also advocates for educating patients so they might better understand the impact of their cancer diagnosis and can ask for help if their overall health is suffering.

Therapies that address physical discomfort such as swelling or chronic pain might be a supplemental part of their cancer program, and engaging the mental and emotional health of a patient, whether through art classes, meditation or counseling, can help patients feel more connected and better able to take on treatment.

No matter the prognosis, cancer state or phase of recovery, the STAR Program can help because fighting cancer should not mean forgoing your overall health and well-being.

Cancer patients need not suffer to survive and must truly be cared for to thrive.

MARK GLAVINIC is director of Rehabilitation Services at Hoag. KRISTYN FAZZALARO and is the Palliative Care Manager and a licensed clinical social worker at Hoag.