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One patient's story on her experience with art therapy

Art will continue to play an important role in my staying healthy
– Mary Stevens-Zarich, art therapy participant & patient at the Swedish Cancer Institute


The Swedish Cancer Institute offers a variety of Supportive Care Services for patients, families, and caregivers to enhance and individualize your care. We want to meet your needs at every step along the way. One of the many services we offer is art therapy.


Our art therapist, Nicole Stiver, has been with us for 10 years in August. She has been described as sensitive, professional, present, and tactful by her patients and patients use a variety of art methods in her sessions.

Mary says, “For the past two years, a weekly session with Nicole Stiver has been central to my healing emotionally, and by extension, physically, from a difficult treatment and (statistically) grim prognosis. That experience was shattering, but it gave me the opportunity to become stronger and more alive by exploring the places that had limited my life up until then.”

Patients ...

What's next after breast cancer?

The Swedish Cancer Institute offers several groups for patients and their caregivers, one of which being ABC-After Breast Cancer: What’s Next?  The breast cancer survivorship class has positively impacted the lives of many individuals and has shown to be extremely beneficial and of great interest to breast cancer patients.


ABC is a free eight-week supportive educational series for women to learn practical life skills to help rebuild after active breast cancer treatment is completed. During the eight-week program participants have the opportunity to make peace with the impacts of cancer treatment, reduce the stress cancer places on relationships, overcome the fear of recurrence, and renew hope and increase resilience.  Individuals who are preparing to complete or have completed breast cancer treatment are invited to sign up for the class. The program provides a sense of community amongst breast cancer survivors.

Give Back with the 2014 Holiday Drive for Thrive

If you’re looking for a way to give back this holiday season, the Holiday Drive for Thrive is in full swing! Thrive Through Cancer is a group dedicated to helping young adults who were newly diagnosed with cancer. Thrive offers many great resources to young adults, but is well known for their Hope Totes. Hope Totes are filled with comforting and encouraging items and are given to young adults that were newly diagnosed with cancer. Join us in the distribution of hope and joy by participating in this year’s Holiday Drive for Thrive.

There are a few ways to get involved including ..

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

Multiple Sclerosis Center Summer BBQ presented by Young Adults with MS Support Group

On August 23 the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center hosted a summer barbeque in honor of the Young Adults with MS Support Group. With nearly 140 patients, family members, friends, and MS Center staff in attendance, the luncheon occupied the clinic’s lounge, wellness studio, and exterior terrace. Speeches were given by Dr. James Bowen, Medical Director and Neurologist at the MS Center as well as members of the Young Adults with MS Support Group. Patients and visitors had the opportunity to socialize and connect with others in the MS community while enjoying appetizers, burgers, hot dogs, and dessert.

 

Having grown from five individuals to over 20, the support group, led by Janice Huertas, MS Center Medical Assistant, is held every 3rd Thursday of the month, 6:30-8:30 PM at the Swedish MS Center. The support group welcomes those diagnosed with MS between the ages of 20-45 and any supporting family or friends. Members dine together at local restaurants, listen to guest speakers, and enjoy games and activities at the MS Center. Whether the sessions are taking your mind off of the hardships of the disease or allowing everyone to openly discuss  ....

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 ...
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