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New tool to help understand Tobacco Related Diseases

Tobacco and tobacco smoke affect our bodies from head to toe in complex ways. These affects can result in the development of diseases or conditions that are then considered to be tobacco-related diseases. In order to simplify the idea of tobacco related diseases, we have created a tool to help you understand where and how different diseases and conditions may present themselves throughout your body due to tobacco use. The tool will show male-specific, female-specific and gender-neutral consequences associated with tobacco use.

Winter 2014 Life to the Fullest Newsletter from Swedish Cancer Institute

The Winter 2014 Life to the Fullest newsletter has hit the stands and this issue is packed with helpful hints and resources. Written by three health education interns at the Swedish Cancer Institute, the focus of this issue is to offer assistance in becoming your own advocate and discusses what resources are available to you and your family. The newsletter also discusses ...

Palliative care is misunderstood and underutilized

If I were to ask 50 people what palliative care means, I would likely get 50 different answers and most would say the term is interchangeable with hospice care. Because of this misconception in both the medical community and the general public, there is a hesitation to seek palliative care expertise earlier in a patient’s journey because of the false perception this service is only for those reaching end of life care. This past week an article was written in the NY Times about this very issue and how patients and their families are missing an opportunity to better understand options and make choices with the help of a palliative care team.
 
Those of us specializing in palliative care strive to manage symptoms and support patients and their loved ones on how to live with and manage chronic disease. We integrate the psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of care along with providing relief from pain and other distressing symptoms. The focus of care is tailored to support each unique individual with the complex questions and scenarios arising from a chronic condition and are provided in an outpatient setting.
 
Is palliative care right for you, someone you love, or a patient you are treating? Here are some questions to think about:

Palliative care is misunderstood and underutilized

The Science and the Art of Exceptional Cancer Care

Not long ago, I read two articles, one by a cancer doctor and another by a journalist. They both left me steaming a bit.  In medicine, we talk about the science (the factual database and knowledge that we use) and the art of medicine (how we use and adapt that database to the benefit of individual and different patients). Both of these articles, the first overtly and the second more indirectly, suggested that the art of medicine is about hiding the science from the patient in order to provide hope, albeit false hope to the cancer victim. Let me state clearly, despite paternalistic instincts, dishonesty has no place in the practice of oncology.

Both of my grandmothers died from cancer. Grandma S. died of stomach cancer when I was in college. As far as I know, she was never told that her cancer had recurred after surgery. Her second husband and family wanted it that way. “Knowing that she has cancer will devastate her, let her have her hope,” we were told. When my cousins and I visited, we were under strict orders to not ask too many questions about her “gall stone” problems. She knew though. You could see it in Grandma’s eyes. But the web that had been woven kept her from being able to grieve and gave no opportunity for good byes. As she slipped away she became withdrawn and depressed.

Grandma B. was diagnosed with an aggressive lymphoma when I was just out of medical school and in my training. She was fully informed by her doctors. She had opportunity to seek second opinions. She conferenced with her children. When she chose to not leave her little ranch valley in Idaho for desperate treatments far from home, and to die in her own home, her family rallied around her in support. For six weeks, she narrated her life history, wrapping up a legacy of lasting value for her family. She was the recipient of an outpouring of love from her community and she died fulfilled, with a smile of satisfaction on her face.

The science and art of medicine are ...

Summer 2014 Cancer Community Walks & Runs

Each year, the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) partners with local and national organizations in an effort to help spread awareness of cancer, associated treatments, and resources available in our communities.
 
Summer 2014 is no different. We’ve signed on to take part in more events than ever before—and we want you to join us! As an active patient, survivor, family member, friend or advocate, your voice and participation matter.
 
American Cancer Society Relay for Life
These overnight community fundraising walks help raise money to fund cancer research, education, and support services like Hope Lodge®, Road to Recovery®, Look Good, Feel Better®, and Reach to Recovery®, all American Cancer Society-run programs. The Swedish Cancer Institute patients gain access to these programs throughout the Swedish network. There are several Relay for Life events going on in the Puget Sound. The Swedish Cancer Institute is taking part in:

Talking to kids about cancer

What do I tell my kids?” 

This is often the first question I’m asked by a parent with a new cancer diagnosis.  One of the most important things for parents to remember is that they know their children better than anyone else and they love them more than anyone…they can trust themselves to do this well.
 
Beyond that general reassurance, however, there are some practical tips for talking with children about a cancer diagnosis. 
 
Prepare for the conversation 
 
Think about your goals for the conversation.  What does your child need to know?  How you can help your child understand what’s going on?  How do you want your child to feel after the talk?  Who should tell your child you have cancer and can the person talking to your child stay relatively calm?
 
When and where should I have this conversation?  You don’t have to wait until you have all the answers.  Be prepared to ...
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