Issue Introductions

Education, Survivorship, and Paying It Forward

August 2019 Vol 5 No 4
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Oncology Navigation & Survivorship®; Co-Founder, Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators® (AONN+); University Distinguished Service Professor of Breast Cancer, Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Co-Developer, Work Stride-Managing Cancer at Work, Johns Hopkins Healthcare Solutions
Breast cancer survivor

Welcome to the latest issue of CONQUER! This issue is jam-packed with interesting patient stories, educational information about various types of cancers and survivorship, as well as how to pay it forward in unusual ways. Let me give you a quick preview of what this issue holds in store for you.

As always, we have several patient stories. One is from a psychologist who found that after surviving a colorectal cancer diagnosis and becoming a Hurricane Katrina survivor, even he needed counseling to overcome the guilt of surviving what was determined to be advanced disease, while 3 of his friends, who also had advanced colorectal cancer, lost their lives.

Another patient story focuses on the anguish, frustration, and ongoing anxiety that follow-up CT scans bring on, after having been diagnosed very late with a salivary gland cancer that was originally discovered as a lump in high school but was dismissed by her dentist, then was evaluated several more times in college, still without a diagnosis. Being repeatedly told it was nothing of concern made the final confirmed diagnosis of an advanced form of this cancer all the more difficult to deal with, physically and emotionally.

Read also about a patient diagnosed with multiple myeloma who provides a personal description of how profound decisions needed to be made to survive, especially decisions about how much money to spend on cancer treatments to be able to avoid dying of this form of incurable blood cancer. Another intriguing patient story is from a young mom dealing with follicular lymphoma, another incurable blood cancer.

There are several educational articles in this issue, including one that sheds light on pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer has a “reputation” for being deadly, with only few people surviving it for more than a few years once being diagnosed. It is a cancer that is difficult to diagnose early, because its symptoms are subtle, and no simple test can detect it. Currently, as you are likely aware of, a great deal of attention has been given to pancreatic cancer, with yet another celebrity having advanced pancreatic cancer and publicly discussing his personal fight with it.

A topic that many people don’t think about every day, but those of us in the navigation world witness daily, is that disparities in cancer care are real. A primary cause of patients receiving inadequate treatment and not in keeping with evidence-based standards of care is lack of access to health insurance, often affecting minorities and poor people. This article provides insight into this problem occurring across the United States, and the world.

We always have several articles dealing with survivorship. One article is focused on complementary therapies for young adults; these therapies are designed to help young patients overcome feelings of isolation, physical pain, and promote emotional healing. Who would have thought that taking a creative writing course or learning how to knit could accomplish this? But these complementary therapies can, and they do. Also read about knitting as art therapy and its many benefits for cancer survivors.

Finally, we have a fascinating article about how cancer survivors, including very young survivors, are becoming innovators and are developing medical devices that can improve the experience of future patients diagnosed with various forms of cancer. I think of this as a way to use their cancer experience for a true purpose, making it less difficult for other individuals in the future.

So there you have it. This quick overview highlights some of what you will find inside these pages. Grab a bottle of water, find your most comfortable chair, and start reading!

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Last modified: August 29, 2019

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