A head and neck cancers support group closer to home

August 30, 2017
Being diagnosed and treated for head and neck cancers can be difficult. Treatment may raise many unique issues such as:
  • Changes in appearance
  • Difficulties with speaking
  • Loss of typical pleasures such as eating
  • Financial challenges
  • Spiritual and/or emotional challenges

Why this support group was started

The Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) practices personalized medicine every day by providing support on all levels, and treating the whole person, not just the disease. To provide extraordinary patient support, the SCI started a head and neck cancers support group. This group is facilitated by an experienced SCI oncology social worker, Mark Filler, LICSW and a SCI physical therapist, Amy Dock, PT, DPT, CLTLANA, CET.

Prior to this group, there was only one head and neck cancer support group in the Seattle area. This group was located in Kirkland. Traveling to the Eastside for ongoing support may be very difficult for people. In order to increase access to this supportive care service, SCI decided to start a head and neck cancers support group in the heart of the city.

Support group details

The support group is open to all head and neck cancer patients. Participants may be at any point in their treatment or recovery process. While caregivers are often times also greatly impacted by a cancer diagnosis, it is kindly asked that only those who have or have had a head and neck cancer attend.

The format of this support group is unique and is made up of two parts. The first part is educational. Speakers provide practical information about cancer treatment and how to manage its side effects. The second part allows for a safe place to ask questions, and share experiences and feelings.

About the support group facilitators

Mark is an oncology social worker who has worked at the SCI since 2012. He is a licensed independent clinical social worker and is currently assigned to the Swedish Head and Neck Surgical Clinic. Mark has received training in social work, counseling and group therapy. He has worked in medical and oncology social work since 1993. He has worked within inpatient and outpatient settings including oncology, hospice, palliative care and other specialties.

Amy is a physical therapist who has specialized in the treatment of oncology and lymphedema patients for the last eight years. She has her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the University of Washington, is a LANA certified lymphedema therapist and an ACSM certified cancer exercise trainer. She works with patients throughout the cancer continuum with all types of cancers, but she has a special fondness for working with head and neck cancer patients. This will be her first experience facilitating a support group. Amy currently works full time for Swedish Outpatient Rehabilitation at First Hill.

Head and neck cancer support group

(details effective August 2017) 

Meets the fourth Friday of each month from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Swedish Cancer Institute (First Hill campus)
1221 Madison Street
Arnold Pavilion
A-Floor West
Conference Room A/B

Registration is not required.

For more information, please contact Mark Filler at 206-215-2287 or Amy Bilyk Dock at 206-215-2203.

This article is from the Fall 2017 issue of Life to the Fullest, the newsletter from the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) dedicated to those with cancer, cancer survivors, and their family members and caregivers.

Topics: Cancer