“The Forgotten Side of Cancer”
In January 2017, the Simms/Mann – UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology will begin its 24th year. We have always been focused on evidenced-based approaches to living with a cancer diagnosis. One of our board members, Jim Ellison, eloquently described the Center’s relationship to cancer treatment as “Medicine Alone is not Enough.”
It is no surprise to patients and families who live with cancer and its treatment that there are many changes, side effects, and adaptations that you make when this disease enters your life and the lives of your loved ones. It affects the psychological well-being of patients and their families, it can change the financial landscape in devastating ways, and it can challenge all aspects of patients’ daily lives. Cancer can disrupt your life; patients and families often feel as if the foundation upon which they stand is fractured leaving them ungrounded. Patients often describe themselves as feeling like they are lost at sea without a sense of direction or feeling like there is no firm ground on which to stand. What we do is help patients and families find their footing through an age-old mechanism called “coping.” In 1984, Jerome Singer, defined “coping” as “cognitive, behavioral, or social strategies that patients and families use to bring about relief in relation to a perceived threat or a demand and to restore equilibrium.”
The Simms/Mann Center has positioned itself to help ameliorate some of the challenges and to help patients and families restore some sense of equilibrium, hopefully living with just a little more comfort in their lives as they traverse the trajectory of cancer and its treatments. We serve as a place to find referrals for concrete needs and to help address anxiety, sadness, depression and worry. We provide education through our Insights Into Cancer lectures series, through our support groups, and individual counseling sessions. We also tend to the spiritual well-being of patients by having a Chaplain to help address spiritual distress and questions and to provide an ongoing presence for patients while getting an infusion. We recognize the importance of nutrition and have our Integrative Specialist who provides evidence-based information to patients. Finally, we know that appearance issues can be of great concern; our boutique, Reflections, offers products to help with physical appearance as well as well-researched nutritional supplements.
According to the American Cancer Society’s Facts and Figures, we now have more people living with cancer than we have ever had and there are more patients alive five years after their diagnosis. This is good news for patients and families who deal with a cancer diagnosis and treatment. We also know that well-timed education, information, reassurance, and referrals can go a long way to helping patients learn how to cope with cancer.
We want to share an article published in Time Magazine, November 2016. It acknowledges the groundbreaking work that we have been doing here in the Center for the past two-plus decades.
We also want to thank all of our donors who have helped make this possible. We hope that someday our services will not have to depend so heavily on donor support. Until then, thank you to those of you who have said, “These services are integral to UCLA Oncology, I will support them.”
Wishing you and yours peace, compassion, and warmth through the holidays.
All of us at the Simms/Mann Center for Integrative Oncology