‘When the treatments are over, it’s not over …’ nurse says

Cancer Care
“I’m hoping we have a better understanding of the disease and the disciplines involved in care”

By Anne Polta, West Central Tribune, April 12, WILLMAR – For the 100-plus health professionals who attended a day-long cancer symposium Wednesday in Willmar, some of the lessons came directly from patients.

A woman who completed treatment for breast cancer last year said that when treatment-related side effects are explained, patients often want to know the worst they can expect.

“I had no idea what it really meant to be tired from radiation,” she said. “I know it’s scary, but I would like to know so I can be prepared.”

Another woman on the cancer survivor panel talked about how much it helped to have an oncology team that was supportive and well-coordinated.

“I never stressed about coming to treatments,” she said.

The panel discussion was part of an all-day education hosted by the Willmar Regional Cancer Center to raise the level of local cancer care both during and after treatment.

“I’m hoping we have a better understanding of the disease and the disciplines involved in care,” said Dr. Tod Speer, medical director of the cancer center.

This was the 25th year of the regional symposium. Willmar is one of the few sites in southwestern Minnesota to offer professional education focused on the care of the cancer patient, said Amy Mugge, director of the Willmar Regional Cancer Center.

“It educates all of the different disciplines,” she said. “We have people from all over — Hutchinson, Morris, Wadena. It’s nice to be able to offer this to them.”

About 120 participants registered to attend, including 55 who were there for the first time. Although many were nurses, the audience also included social workers, dietitians and even a few students.

The focus this year was on breast cancer. Not only is this the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women in the U.S., it’s also the type of cancer treated most often at the Willmar Regional Cancer Center.

The cancer center established a tumor board specifically for breast cancer this past year, Mugge said. It’s aimed at coordinating and streamlining care at the time of diagnosis, so women don’t have to wait as long to obtain their test results and know what their treatment plan will be.

Symposium participants heard about the latest in surgery and radiation for treating breast cancer, as well as the medical imaging and pathology used in making a diagnosis. Other sessions focused on the genetics of breast cancer and prognostic and predictive factors for breast cancer that has not spread.

The survivor panel discussion put the spotlight on patients themselves and their experience of a cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

As of April 2015, there were 14 million cancer survivors in the U.S. — three times the entire population of Minnesota, said Kelly Sing, a nurse practitioner with the Willmar Regional Cancer Center and moderator of the panel discussion.

“The number is only expected to continue to grow,” she said.

Continue reading at: http://www.wctrib.com/news/local/4008291-when-treatments-are-over-its-not-over-nurse-says-cancer-symposium