By: Lisa C.S. Rootvik, ARNP, Survivorship Nurse Practitioner
The Survivorship Clinic at TCCC turned ONE in March and we are growing by leaps and bounds! We had our region’s very first survivorship conference, Moving Beyond Cancer to Wellness, on April 28th. With more than 70 people in attendance, we had an amazing turn out for this all-day educational event that was co-hosted with SCCA and Fred Hutch. We had local reporter Carissa Lehmkuhl emceeing and 10 vendors on-site. Speakers included the Co-Director of the Fred Hutch Survivorship Program, the creator of our very own Survivorship Clinic (me!) and five other speakers from Seattle and Tri-Cities. Attendees enjoyed having a chance to learn from, and ask questions of, experts in the field of survivorship. They also enjoyed gift bags and raffle prizes! We hope that this will be the first of many conferences at TCCC geared toward survivors.
But who exactly is considered a survivor? The American Cancer Society defines the term “survivor” as anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer and “survivorship” as the time in a survivor’s life from the moment of cancer diagnosis until the end of life. This definition includes people who have a history of cancer as well as those who currently have cancer. It includes people who are currently undergoing treatment and those who have completed treatment. It includes people whose cancer is considered curable and those whose cancer is considered chronic or incurable. Needless to say, the definition of “survivor” is a very broad one and some people embrace it, while others never feel that the word “survivor” suits them. And that’s OK. I encourage everyone who has experienced cancer to use whatever words feel right to them.
At the Survivorship Clinic at TCCC, all survivors (using the broad definition above) are welcome. That’s right! If you’ve ever been diagnosed with cancer, you can be seen no matter what your cancer diagnosis, no matter what the stage of your cancer and no matter how long ago you were treated. If you have been, or are currently being, treated with curative intent my goal is to see you approximately 3-4 months after completing treatment and within one year from diagnosis. If you are, or have been, treated for chronic or incurable cancer, I believe the most ideal time to be seen is between treatments. If you’re interested in being seen but are not sure when would be the best time, feel free to contact the Survivorship Team and we can help you identify the ideal time.
During a Survivorship visit we review your past medical history, cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment. We review and identify side effects of treatment, discuss potential long-term complications from treatment and I educate you on how to take care of yourself going forward. The primary goal is for you to understand what you’ve been through and how to take care of yourself. The secondary goal is to make sure your entire health care team knows the same information. This includes providers who are not typically specialists in oncology (like your primary care). When you leave your visit, you will have in your hands your personalized Survivorship Care Plan which includes a concise summary of your cancer care and a Health Maintenance Schedule for you to follow with your health care team. You will also leave with many of our community’s resources for survivors at your fingertips.
I accept referrals to the Survivorship Clinic from any member of your health care team, including, but not limited to, your medical oncology, radiation oncology or primary care providers. I also accept direct patient referrals. Insurance typically covers a visit to the Survivorship Clinic, but if there is any doubt, please contact your insurance company directly.
I am so excited that the Survivorship Clinic continues to grow as we enter our second year! If you are interested in being seen for a visit or have questions about the Survivorship Clinic, please feel free to contact my nurse, Rebecca, at (509) 737-3483 or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the month of June, and all year, I extend warm wishes for happiness and the best health possible to each and every one of our community’s survivors. And if you ever need any help navigating your season of survivorship, know that I am always here to help.