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Tunnell Cancer Center Annual Report 2010-2011

Tunnell Cancer Center Annual Report 2010-2011


After Ringing The Bell

Clare Wilson, RN, MS, cancer care coordinator and certified life coach, is Carol Cavallero’s wellness coach at Tunnell Cancer Center. Wellness coaches help patients reach their best health and well-being by inspiring and challenging them to go beyond what they would do alone.

Upon completion of treatment, patients at the Tunnell Cancer Center ring a bell to signal the milestone; it is a sound which is heard more than 1,000 times yearly. Patients ring the bell to celebrate courage, hope, triumph, strength, faith, and love. The bell-ringing is a very special event, one which attracts attention from families, patients, and staff because it signifies a patient’s move into the survivorship phase of cancer treatment.

According to the National Cancer Institute Office of Cancer Survivorship, “An individual is considered a cancer survivor from the time of cancer diagnosis, through the balance of his or her life. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also affected by the survivorship experience.”

Patients often have many questions about what happens “after ringing the bell” because up until then they have been actively engaged in cancer treatment. Often patients fear that the cancer will return.

“The experience of having cancer changes the lives of many patients. I enjoy developing programs to help our patients live their personal best and know that they are cared for by a supportive and compassionate care team.”    —Judith Ramirez, EdD, Manager,       Outreach and Psychosocial Services Additionally, many patients experience mixed emotions after completing treatment. While ringing the bell marks the celebration of personal strengths it also may trigger a sense of uncertainty or fear of the unknown. Also, questions arise about late effects of cancer treatments, follow-up care and screening, cancer prevention, and healthier living.

In 2006, the Institute of Medicine issued a report recommending that cancer patients receive an individualized survivorship care plan that includes guidelines for monitoring and maintaining their health and wellness. In response to that report, and to the 2012 American College of Surgeons Survivorship Care Standards, the Tunnell Cancer Center is moving forward with offering patients a personalized survivorship care plan. The survivorship care plan will provide patients a written summary of their treatment, direction for future care, and a list of supportive resources.

Currently, the center offers a WellCoach program to help improve survivors’ quality of care as they move beyond their cancer treatment. The WellCoach program at Tunnell Cancer Center is designed to help survivors achieve personal wellness goals. After completing cancer treatment, many survivors want to make lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, eating healthier, and increasing physical activity to regain a sense of balance and well-being after treatment. Clare Wilson, RN, MS, a certified WellCoach at the Tunnell Cancer Center, helps survivors establish a personal wellness vision and goals to achieve that vision. She then works individually with patients to support them in meeting their goals.

The experience of having cancer changes the lives of many patients. Relationships with family, friends, and work may seem different as cancer survivors explore how to move forward with their lives. Survivorship care focuses on improving well-being so that after completing cancer treatment survivors continue to move forward with their lives, live their personal best, and know they continue to be cared for by a supportive and compassionate care team.