Fall 2013 Issue

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The ultimate measure of a man
is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience,
but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Welcome to the Fall 2013/Winter 2014 issue of Life to the Fullest, the newsletter the Swedish Cancer Institute dedicates to cancer survivors, and their families and friends. Dr. King’s quote may have referred to a different time and challenge, but it holds some truth for individuals who have faced cancer and are now heading into that special community called “Cancer Survivors.”

The first challenge you faced on your journey was hearing your doctor tell you that you had cancer. Deciding on a treatment and enduring that treatment was another challenge. Redefining your life is the next challenge – one that may include returning to a job, volunteer activities or social interests. The Swedish Cancer Institute has a wealth of services to help cancer patients and their family members through their challenges. We hope you find the information included in this issue of Life to the Fullest helpful throughout your journey.

Table of Contents

Hello, Life – I’m Back

Addressing Cancer Patients’ Concerns About Continuing or Returning to Work

By Erin Paschall

During your transition from diagnosis to treatment and survivorship, you may begin thinking about resuming activities you enjoyed before you heard the words – you have cancer. It is natural to feel uneasy about this next stage of your life.

It is especially natural to have many questions if you are planning to work through your treatment or return to work after taking time off.

  • Should I continue to work?
  • When – if ever – is the right time to go back to work?
  • Can I still do the job physically?
  • What happens if my employer doesn’t want me back?
  • Who at work needs to know about my cancer?
  • How much information do I need to share?

These are common concerns for cancer patients who have jobs, so let’s explore them together.

Step 1. Take a Deep Breath

Learning that you have cancer was probably one of the most overwhelming experiences of your life. It is important to first focus your energy on healing. Some people work through their treatment, while others choose to take time off. As treatment winds down, many cancer patients begin to set new goals for their lives that may or may not include their previous jobs or any type of employment. Whether you continue or return to work will depend on your personal financial circumstances, your physical condition and your lifestyle goals. The Swedish Cancer Institute offers several classes to help you work through these decisions. (See the Patient and Family Education Classes section in this newsletter or go to www.swedish.org/classes.)

Take time to evaluate your options, gather information and seek advice if you want it. Then you will be ready to make a decision that best meets your particular goals and needs.

Step 2. Understand Your Rights as an Employee

If you choose to continue or return to work, become familiar with two federal laws that protect some employees who have serious health conditions. See if they apply to your particular situation.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

FMLA applies only to companies that employ more than 50 people. To be eligible for FMLA protection, you must have worked for the company for:

  1. More than 12 months.
  2. More than 1,250 hours during the 12 months before taking FMLA leave.

FMLA protection includes:

  • Unpaid, job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks during a 12-month period – in addition to any paid leave you have earned. (Note: This protection also applies to a working spouse, child or parent who is your caregiver.)
  • Continued group health-insurance benefits during your FMLA leave.
  • Rights to other employment-related benefits according to your employer’s established policies.
  • Return to the same job – or an equivalent job – with equivalent pay.
  • Restoration of all job-related benefits accrued before FMLA leave.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Cancer is not always considered a disability. The ADA, however, may provide some protection for you if:

  1. Your company employs more than 15 people.
  2. You still meet the job standards.
  3. You are still able to perform the required “essential functions” of the job.

The ADA offers:

  • Protection from discrimination by your employer because you had cancer.
  • Protection from discrimination because your employer thinks you are sick.
  • The right to “reasonable accommodations” that do not pose an undue hardship on the employer.

Reasonable accommodations may include such things as:

  • A different work schedule.
  • Furniture, equipment or software to help you do your job.
  • Temporary assignment to a position that is less demanding.


Each person’s circumstances are unique. It is important to know how these laws might apply specifically to you during your cancer treatment or as you return to work. The following websites can help you learn more about the terms and conditions of the FMLA and the ADA:

Oncology Social Work Services at the Swedish Cancer Institute


Swedish/First Hill


In addition to these online resources, you may find it helpful to talk with an oncology social worker at the Swedish Cancer Institute. These health-care professionals know about community resources that are available to help you transition back into the workforce. You also may want to ask about registering for an After Cancer Treatment: What’s Next? class. (See the Patient and Family Education Classes section in this newsletter or go to www.swedish.org/classes.)

Step 3. Decide Who Needs to Know What and When

Telling people about your diagnosis is often a difficult decision. Perhaps you have already told your family and close friends. Allow yourself time to process their questions and reactions before you consider sharing the information with others.

Telling – or Not Telling – Your Employer

Deciding whether or not to share your personal health information with anyone at work is entirely up to you.

Cancer and cancer treatments produce physical side effects, such as fatigue, nausea and trouble concentrating or remembering details. Work may become more challenging for you. If you choose to ask your employer for an accommodation or time off, you may have to provide some information, and possibly a letter from your doctor, to support your request.

It is your decision to disclose as much or as little information about your diagnosis. If you decide it is important or necessary to share information with your employer, it is best to stick to your diagnosis and the amount of time your doctor expects the treatment will take. If you have a close relationship with your employer, he or she may ask about your feelings, fears, emotional wellbeing and hopes. You may choose to talk about these issues, but you are not obligated to do so. It is OK to say that you are not comfortable discussing those things.

It is also entirely up to you whether you tell any of your co-workers. Your employer and the company’s human resources staff are obligated to protect your privacy and personal health information. You are the only person who can decide how much information others at work need to know.

Is There a Best Time to Share This Information?

Sometimes deciding when to tell your employer is out of your control. You may have an aggressive cancer that requires immediate attention. Your doctor may tell you to take medical leave of absence right away. Or, you may find you need to change your work schedule because of your doctor’s appointments or treatment schedule. Even though the when may be out of your control, the who, what and how still remain your decision. If there is no urgency, you can decide when you are most comfortable sharing your story.

Returning to work or changing your life’s path is your decision. So, too, is how and with whom you discuss your diagnosis. Remember: It is always OK to choose what is best for you.

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the guy who'll decide where to go.

– Dr. Seuss

Health Insurance – Understanding the Coming Changes

Some people might feel overwhelmed by too much information about changes in health insurance in the United States. Others might say they don’t have enough information. One thing is certain – many people are confused about what happens to their health insurance beginning January 1, 2014.

  • What is the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”)?
  • How will it affect me and my family?
  • What is an exchange?
  • Should I buy insurance through an exchange?
  • Am I going to lose the health insurance I already have?

These are just a few of the questions families are asking.

Everyone has different health insurance needs. Health insurance can be one of the most stressful financial issues for cancer patients and other individuals who have serious or chronic medical conditions.

So, let’s see if we can simplify this discussion just a bit. We hope the following information will help you understand the changes, so you can make the best decisions for you and your family.

What Is the Affordable Care Act?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to as “Obamacare,” became Federal law in March 2010. It established requirements and guidelines for health-insurance plans. Some parts of the law have been delayed. Other parts of the law are in effect now or will become effective January 1, 2014.

Some of the things that are already in place include:

  • Your children may be able to stay on your health insurance until the age of 26, whether they are single, married, working or students.
  • Your insurance company cannot cancel your health insurance because you get sick.
  • Your insurance company cannot deny coverage to a child under the age of 19 because of a previous or existing medical condition. Insurance companies call these medical conditions that started before your child had health insurance “pre-existing conditions.”
  • If you have not been able to get health insurance due to a pre-existing condition, you may be eligible for a special policy. This policy is temporary because next year your insurance company will not be able to deny or delay coverage for pre-existing conditions.
  • New health-insurance plans must cover your co-pay or co-insurance for specific preventive services. This means that you do not have any out-of-pocket expenses for this care. Learn more about the services that are on this list.
  • You can no longer use a flexible spending account to purchase over-the-counter medicine (medicine you can buy without a prescription).

On January 1, 2014, the following parts of the ACA will go into effect:

  1. Nearly everyone in the United States must have health insurance. If you choose not to have health insurance, you will pay a fine when you file your tax return.
  2. Medicaid expands to include more people (Read “Expanding Medicaid – Helping to meet the needs of low-income families” to learn more.)
  3. You may be able to purchase health insurance through a state’s health-insurance exchange and you may qualify for a discount on your premium. (See “How does the Washington Health Benefit Exchange work?” to learn more.)

How Does the ACA Affect Me and My Family?

Many parts of the ACA affect everyone who has health insurance. The law describes things that every health-insurance policy must include, such as visits to the doctor, emergency care, preventive health and wellness screenings, and exams. It requires that health-insurance companies spend most of the money they receive from premiums on health-care services, instead of business costs. The ACA also describes things health-insurance companies cannot do. For example, insurance companies cannot deny or delay coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions.

The ACA also sets up health-insurance “exchanges” to help people purchase health insurance. Each state has its own exchange.

What Is a Health-Insurance Exchange?

An exchange is a central marketplace where U.S. citizens and legal residents can buy health insurance. Washington’s exchange is called the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

Families who have no other way to buy health insurance will find the exchange particularly helpful. Depending on your personal situation, you and your family might be able to buy health insurance through Washington’s exchange and possibly save some money.

How Does the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Work?

  1. The exchange offers four types of health-insurance plans: platinum, gold, silver and bronze.
  2. Each type of plan includes the essential health benefits described in the ACA. Learn more about essential benefits.
  3. The main difference between the four levels is the cost of premiums, and the amount of co-pays and co-insurance you will pay.
  4. ome plans may include extra benefits. Plans with extra benefits cost more.
  5. Low-income families who purchase insurance through the exchange may be eligible for a discount on their premiums. The amount of the discount is based on income and family size.

The sign-up period for exchange plans begins October 1, 2013, and runs through March 31, 2014. This period is called “open enrollment.” Open enrollment will happen every year. In the future, open enrollment will be just three months (October – December). Open enrollment gives families an opportunity to change insurance plans for the next year.

If you purchase health-insurance through an exchange before the end of 2013, your plan will be effective January 1, 2014.

Should You Buy Health Insurance Through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange?

There is no easy answer to this question because every family is different. Cancer patients who have had trouble buying health insurance may have new options for health insurance from an employer or through the exchange. Whether you buy health insurance and how you purchase it is a decision you and your family must make based on your particular situation.

Here are a few things to consider as you evaluate your options:

Do You Have Health Insurance Through an Employer or Any Other Source?

If you work, talk to your employer. Because health-insurance companies cannot deny or delay coverage because of a pre-existing condition, you may be able to buy health insurance through your employer’s group plan.

Most employers pay part of their employees’ premiums to help keep costs down for employees. If you are eligible for health insurance through your employer, you may not save money by buying health insurance through the exchange.

If your employer provides group health insurance and you decide to buy health insurance through the exchange, your employer does not have to continue paying part of your premium.

If your employer only provides group health insurance for you – not your family – you can buy health insurance for your family through the exchange.

Some organizations provide group health insurance for their members. If you belong to an organization that offers health insurance, you may have a lower premium because of the number of members who buy the plan.

If you are an employee or belong to an organization that offers health insurance, carefully consider all of your options. Compare the benefits and costs of the policy you can buy through your employee or organization with the plans that are available through the exchange.

Are You Eligible for a Discount Through the Exchange?

Generally, low-income families who buy insurance through the exchange are eligible for some type of discount on their premiums. Discounts are only available for health-insurance plans that are available through the exchange.

The discount you are eligible for is calculated when you sign up. The amount of discount depends on your annual income. If you are eligible, the discount will be a tax credit when you file your tax return. In some cases the discount may be paid directly to your insurance company, so your premium payment will be less.

You may not qualify for a discount if your employer offers health insurance and you choose to purchase health insurance through the exchange. Whether you receive a discount will also depend on the type and cost of the health insurance your employer offers.

The Federal government has set standards to help ensure employees have access to quality, affordable health-insurance plans through their employers. Employers must provide health-insurance plans that:

  • Provide the essential health benefits.
  • Costs no more than the maximum amount set by the government. This amount is a percentage of an employee’s total income.
  • Passes a “value” test. This test ensures that the cost of the policy is appropriate for the coverage it provides.

You may qualify for a discount if your annual income and family size would normally qualify you for a discount and your employer’s health insurance does not meet those standards. Learn more about essential benefits and the maximum amount you are expected to pay.

If Your Employer Discontinues Group Health Insurance or Does Not Provide Insurance for Your Family, Can You Purchase Health Insurance for Yourself and/or Your Family Through the Exchange?

Some employers do not provide health insurance for their employees. Others offer insurance only for their employees; they do not offer insurance for their employees’ families. You can buy health insurance through the exchange for yourself and/or your family if:

  • Your employer does not offer health insurance for its employees
  • You change jobs and begin working for a company that does not offer health insurance
  • Your employer does not offer health insurance for your family

How Do You Compare Plans Through the Exchange?

The exchange website is the best place to start. Washington’s exchange website is www.wahealthplanfinder.org. Before enrollment begins on October 1, 2013, you can only calculate your estimated cost of buying health insurance through the exchange and see whether you might be eligible for a discount. The details of each of the exchange’s plans are not yet available online, so you cannot yet compare plans.

When that information is available, how you compare plans will depend on whether you have an existing plan.

Step 1.
If you have an existing health-insurance plan:
Begin by making a list of the benefits your current plan includes that you think are most important. Your list should also include the cost of your monthly premium, and your co-pay and co-insurance costs.

If you do not have an existing plan: Make a list of the types of health-care services that are most important for you and your family.

Hold onto your list until the details of the exchange plans are available online, so you can compare benefits and costs.

Step 2. Have available your total annual income and the number of adults and children you need to include on your health-insurance plan.

Step 3. Go to www.wahealthplanfinder.org. Click on “Calculate Your Costs.” Enter the requested information and click “submit.” If you do this before sign-up begins on October 1, 2013, you will only get estimates.

In just a few seconds, the website will give you an explanation that includes:

  • How much more you make than the Federal poverty level.
  • The estimated amount you are expected to pay for a premium if you are not eligible for a premium discount.
  • The percentage of your annual income you are expected to pay for a premium if you are eligible for a premium discount.
  • The estimated discount – if any – you might be eligible to receive.

Your results may show that you are eligible for Medicaid. (Read “Expanding Medicaid – Helping to meet the needs of low-income families” to learn more.)

Step 4. This step must wait until the website includes descriptions of all of the plans offered through the exchange. When those descriptions are available, use your notes about your current plan (see Step 1) and the website’s descriptions to compare the benefits and costs of each plan.

Do You Have to Buy Health Insurance if You Are a Member of a Native Tribe?

American Indians and Alaska Natives who live in Washington State are not required to buy minimum health-care coverage. However, they are eligible for additional benefits if they buy health insurance through the exchange. After January 1, 2014, American Indians also may still receive care through Indian Health services, their tribes or tribal organizations, or Urban Indian organizations. For more information, go to www.wahealthplanfinder.org or call 1-855-WAFINDER (1-855-923-4633).

For More Information About the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Web:


Telephone Toll free:


What Plans Fulfill the Requirement to Have Health Insurance, so You Do Not Need to Buy Health Insurance Through the Exchange?

Generally, the exchange is best for people who do not have any health insurance. Most health-insurance plans provided by employers meet the standards for minimum health benefits and reasonable cost.

In addition, individuals enrolled in Medicare or TRICARE do not need to enroll through the exchange.

Health insurance can be confusing. As a cancer patient, you have learned to gather information and make decisions that are best for you. Take advantage of those skills – put them to good use as you compare your new options for health insurance.

Health Care Reform 101

King County Public Health will offer a class on Health Care Reform and how it applies to Washington residents. The class will provide information about:

  • The Washington Health Benefit Exchange.
  • Eligibility and enrollment for health insurance through the exchange.
  • Eligibility for the expanded Medicaid program.
  • The exchange’s new website (wahealthplanfinder.org).
  • Resources available to help individuals and families make their health insurance decisions.

Health Reform 101 will be offered at Swedish/First Hill three times between September and November 2013.

Enrollment will not be available during these classes.

For more information or to register, go to www.swedish.org/classes or call 206-386-2502.

Dates and Times

Tuesday, Sept. 24, 6-8 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 18, 3-5 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 8, 12-2 p.m.


Swedish/First Hill
Arnold Pavilion,
A-Floor West, Conference Rooms A & B
1221 Madison St.,
Seattle, WA 98104

Expanding Medicaid – Helping to Meet the Needs of Low-Income Families

The number of low-income families who cannot afford health insurance has grown. These families often go to emergency rooms and urgent-care clinics for medical care. They lose out on the benefits of having a family doctor who can help them get well and stay healthy.

Medicaid is a health-insurance program that provides low- or no-cost medical care for low-income individuals and families. State governments and the Federal Government work together to provide Medicaid.

Who Is Eligible for Medicaid?

Each state runs its own Medicaid program. Therefore, eligibility may differ from one state to the next. In general, to be eligible for Medicaid, you must:

  1. Be part of one of the designated groups: children, parents, pregnant women, individuals with a severe disability or seniors.
  2. Have an annual income that is less than the minimum amount specified for your group. This amount is based on the Federal Poverty Level. Because the poverty level may change each year, eligibility for Medicaid may also change from one year to the next.
  3. Enroll in the program.

What Is the Poverty Level?

The poverty level is the minimum amount of income a person or family needs to live on for one year. The poverty level is different for different sizes of families.

Every country has its own poverty level. Governments normally calculate the poverty level for their countries each year.

In the United States, all states, except Alaska and Hawaii, have the same poverty level. Alaska and Hawaii each have their own poverty level.

The U.S. Federal Poverty Level in 2013 for a single individual is $11,490 per year. The poverty level for a family of four is $23,550. Learn more about the poverty level for other sizes of families.

Government-run programs often use a percentage of the poverty level to determine who is eligible for the program. Different programs may use different percentages. The percentage tells you how much more than the poverty level you can earn and still be eligible for the program.


A government program accepts individuals who earn 125% of the poverty level. John is not married. He has no children. How much can John earn in 2013 and still be eligible for the program?

  1. 100% of the 2013 poverty level for an individual is $11,490.
  2. 25% of the poverty level is $2,873.
  3. So, John can earn up to $11,490 plus $2,873, for a total of $14,363 in 2013, and still be eligible.

Changes to Washington Medicaid in 2014

The Affordable Care Act allows states to enroll more people in Medicaid. In January 2014, Washington’s Medicaid program will expand, so more low-income individuals and families will be eligible.

Beginning in January 2014, anyone with an income up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level will be able to enroll in Washington’s Medicaid program. If the poverty level does not change, individuals with annual incomes up to $15,856 or families of four with annual incomes up to $32,499 will be eligible for Medicaid in 2014. If the poverty level changes in 2014, the amount required for Medicaid will change, too.

Why Is this Change Important?

Medicaid makes it possible for low-income families to get low- or no-cost health care. If more people are eligible for Medicaid, more people will be able to afford health care.

Expanding Medicaid actually helps everyone. It even helps people who are not enrolled in Medicaid. When more families receive care through family doctors, there will be less demand on emergency rooms and urgent-care clinics for routine care. Those facilities will be able to better focus their resources on taking care of patients who truly need emergency or urgent care.

For More Information about Medicaid

Web: www.wahealthplanfinder.org
Toll free: 1-855-WAFINDER (1-855-923-4633)
TTY/TTD: 1-855-626-9604

Are You Eligible for Medicaid?

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange website can help you find out if you are eligible for Medicaid. Go to the website, click on “Calculate your Costs” and complete the form. Your results will show if you are eligible for Medicaid. It will also provide information about how to enroll in Medicaid. (Read “Health Insurance – Understanding the coming changes” in this newsletter for more information about the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.)

For more than 100 years, Swedish Health Services has cared for patients from all walks of life. As Medicaid expands, Swedish is working closely with state agencies and other health systems to help ensure low-income families are aware of the health-care options they have, so they can receive the care they need.

Patient and Family Education Classes

The Swedish Cancer Institute offers programs to assist you, your family, friends and caregivers in making treatment decisions, managing your symptoms and accessing complementary programs to help your mind, body and spirit to heal. Registration is required for all classes unless otherwise indicated. For dates, times and locations of the following classes, or to register for a class, call 206-386-2502 or go to www.swedish.org/classes.  

Active Women, Healthy Women

From cancer patient to survivor, there is an exercise activity appropriate for you. The class is co-sponsored by Team Survivor Northwest. It focuses on stretching, strength training and cardio workouts.

ABC - After Breast Cancer: What’s Next?

An eight-week class for women who have completed breast-cancer treatment. This class gives women an opportunity to discuss coping, relationships, fear of recurrence, resilience and hope.

ACT - After Cancer Treatment: What’s Next?

An eight-week class for men and women who have completed treatment for any type of cancer. This class gives them an opportunity to discuss coping, relationships, fear of recurrence, resilience and hope.

Don’t Keep Putting It Off: A Class to Discuss Living Wills, Financial Power of Attorney (POA) and Hospice

A class for cancer patients and their loved ones that answers questions about end-of-life issues and available resources.

Food for the Fight: Battling Cancer With Nutrition

A class on healthy eating and maximizing nutritional intake while undergoing cancer treatment. Learn how to use different foods to manage cancer symptoms and the side effects of treatment.

Gentle Yoga

Create balance in your body, breath and mind in this therapeutic yoga class.

Getting Back to the Real You After Cancer Treatment

A class that is co-sponsored by the Swedish Cancer Institute and Northwest Natural Health that focuses on natural ways to help your body heal and repair after treatment.

Healing the Whole Person: Body, Mind & Spirit

This class explores guidelines that can enhance the lives of those with cancer, those who have completed treatment and their family members.

Health Care Reform 101

The Swedish Cancer Institute, in partnership with King County Public Health, is offering a class on Health Care Reform and how it applies to Washington residents. The class will help you and your family members determine if you are eligible for private health insurance through the new Washington Health Benefit Exchange or for the expanded Medicaid program. The class will be offered at Swedish/First Hill three times between September and November 2013. For more information or to register, go to www.swedish.org/classes or call 206-386-2502.

Look Good, Feel Better

This American Cancer Society class is designed for women undergoing cancer treatment. The class focuses on skin care, cosmetics, hair care and hair loss.

Meditation for People With Cancer

A two-part class that focuses on mindfulness meditation.

The Anticancer Lifestyle

Learn how to create an anticancer lifestyle by eating beneficial foods, protecting yourself from environmental threats and enhancing your physical and emotional wellbeing.

When the world says, "Give up"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
– Anonymous

Cancer Support Groups

The Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) offers a variety of support groups that are open to all people in the community. These groups provide an opportunity to meet with others having experiences similar to your own. An experienced support-group facilitator from the Swedish Cancer Institute leads these groups.

We offer the following support groups for all patients and caregivers, whether the patient is receiving care at Swedish Medical Center or at another cancer center in the community. Please call 206-386-3228 for more information about cancer support groups at the SCI.

Living With Cancer Support Group

  • A group for those living with any type of cancer
  • Swedish/First Hill: Meets weekly on Thursdays, from 1:30 to 3 p.m.
  • Swedish/Issaquah: Meets the second and fourth Monday of the month, from 10-11:30 a.m. (Note: For the most current information about the Swedish/Issaquah support group, please call Tricia Matteson, oncology social worker, at 425-313-4224.)

Caregivers Support Group

  • A drop-in support group for caregivers
  • Swedish/First Hill: Meets weekly on Thursdays, from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Gynecological Cancers Support Group

  • A support group for women with any type of gynecological cancer
  • Swedish/First Hill: Meets weekly on Tuesdays, from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Prostate Cancer Educational Support Group

  • A support group for men with prostate cancer
  • Swedish/First Hill: Meets the third Thursday of the month, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.
  • Call Leo Ward, prostate cancer survivor, at 425-957-7440, for more information about this support group.

Perseverance is not a long race;
It is many short races one after another.
– Walter Elliott, The Spiritual Life

Creative Expression Programs

Expressing yourself through creative outlets has been shown to be an effective coping and healing technique. The Swedish Cancer Institute offers a variety of opportunities for cancer patients, their family members and caregivers to explore their creativity.

Art Therapy: An Approach for Healing

Art therapy is a confidential, supportive and individualized experience for visually and verbally examining health issues through self-exploration. Experience or confidence in art-making is not necessary. All materials are provided. Ongoing weekly sessions are available by appointment only. Please call 206-215-6178 to make an appointment.

Location: Swedish/First Hill – A-Floor West, Cancer Education Center

Healing Arts Group

Experience the healing benefits of art-making in a supportive setting. These drop-in art-therapy group sessions are open to cancer patients, their family members and caregivers. Experience or confidence in art-making is not necessary. All materials are provided. Questions? Please call 206-215-6178.

Location: Swedish/First Hill –True Family Women’s Cancer Center Healing Forum (Arnold Pavilion, 5th Floor)

Day/Time: Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to noon

Knit for Life

This network of volunteers uses knitting as a healing experience to enhance the lives of cancer patients, their family members and caregivers during treatment and recovery. It provides a supportive environment for beginners and experienced knitters. All materials are provided. Sessions are available at two locations at Swedish/First Hill and at Swedish/Issaquah. For more information, call 206-386-3200.

Location: Swedish/First Hill – True Family Women’s Cancer Center Healing Forum (Arnold Pavilion, 5th floor)
Day/Time: Wednesdays, from 10 a.m. to noon

Location: Swedish/First Hill – Swedish Cancer Institute (Arnold Pavilion, First-floor Lobby)
Day/Time: Thursdays, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Location: Swedish/Issaquah – Medical Office Building, Main Lobby, in front of fireplace
Day/Time: Mondays, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Quick Reference
Patient Education and Support Services

Cancer Education Centers

The Cancer Education centers at Edmonds, First Hill and Issaquah are unique resources that provide patient education to the public free of charge. The centers offer a wide variety of brochures, books, videos and audiotapes about cancer, and an expansive computer database that can be used to search for and print information about specific types of cancer.
Edmonds, First Hill, Issaquah: 206-386-3200


The Swedish Cancer Institute offers programs and classes to assist patients and their families and caregivers making treatment decisions, managing symptoms and accessing complementary programs.
Classes are offered in multiple locations. Go to www.swedish.org/classes for locations of specific classes. Class information/registration: 206-386-2502

Counseling, Social Work Services, Support, Financial Counseling

The SCI offers a variety of support services. Support groups at the SCI are led by experienced support group facilitators and are open to anyone in the community. Individual and group counseling sessions are also available at the SCI. These sessions help patients and their family members and caregivers cope with treatment, improve communication, manage depression or anxiety, and connect with community agencies and services. They also provide resources for relaxation techniques and stress management.
Edmonds: 425-673-8328
First Hill: 206-386-3228
Issaquah: 425-313-4224

Meet Our Contributing Experts

Shannon Marsh is the American Cancer Society Cancer Resource Navigator at the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) – an innovative patient-assistance program provided through a partnership between the SCI and the American Cancer Society. Shannon connects patients and family members to many valuable services, including complimentary lodging, transportation and wigs.
Tricia Matteson, MSW, is one of several oncology social workers at the Swedish Cancer Institute. She is a dedicated resource for patients at Swedish/Issaquah. Tricia works with patients and their family members throughout the cancer treatment experience. She is available to help them define goals and address concerns, such as emotional distress and financial worries. She also is able to connect them to support groups and serve as a guide to resources.


The information contained in this newsletter is accurate as of Sept. 1, 2013. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to the following resources:

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