Moving Forward After a Cancer Diagnosis: Two Comprehensive Memorial Hermann Programs Help Survivors Cope
More than 14 million people are cancer survivors in the United States, a number expected to rise to almost 19 million by the year 2024. As arduous as treatment is, many survivors say they’re grateful that the experience led them to make important changes in their lives, from healthier lifestyles to learning the value of gratitude. Many also tell family and friends that while they felt very supported during treatment, they’ve found it hard to transition to a new way of life after treatment. In response to these and other issues, two comprehensive survivorship programs are helping survivors move forward, while educating the public about prevention, screening and treatment options. Canopy in The Woodlands and the Lindig Family Cancer Resource Center in Memorial City both opened in recent months.
Upper Photo: Canopy – A Cancer Survivorship Center in The Woodlands.
Lower photo (left to right): Bill Lindig, Bobetta Lindig and Paul O’Sullivan at the opening of the Lindig Family Cancer Resource Center at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center.
A first-of-its-kind cancer survivorship center in Montgomery County, Canopy was made possible through support from Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital and its In the Pink of Health volunteer organization. It offers a broad range of free programs and services that address the emotional, physical and social needs of those affected by cancer.
“Our goal is to elevate life above cancer and shift the conversation from the disease itself to living and celebrating life at every stage of cancer treatment,” says Carolyn Allsen, RN, OCN, an Oncology Nurse Navigator who oversees Canopy’s programs.
Canopy opened in a newly designed and constructed space at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands this summer as a place for cancer survivors and caregivers to find resources and connect with others. “The space is designed to be calm and inviting and to encourage people to feel at home while they’re here,” says Amanda Poole, Canopy facility coordinator.
“We envision it as a safe haven where people from all over the Houston area can come and gather together, regardless of where they received their care. Sometimes you simply need to be around people who are going through or who have been through what you’re experiencing.”
Programs include caregiver support sessions; yoga, Pilates, tai chi and ballroom dance classes; massage therapy; oncology education sessions with invited speakers; art therapy; and lifestyle education classes focused on exercise and nutrition, along with cooking demonstrations in a specially designed kitchenette. These programs are provided by community professionals who donate their time and expertise to cancer survivors. Canopy also includes a small support group and counseling room for Look Good Feel Better sessions, a consultation room for one-on-one meetings, an onsite library and electronic resources, a massage therapy room, a private dressing room for breast prosthesis fittings and a wig salon for those coping with hair loss from chemotherapy.
The Lindig Family Cancer Resource Center opened its doors this spring at Memorial Hermann Cancer Center- Memorial City, through a generous gift from the Lindig family and from Memorial Hermann employees, who donated an additional $87,000 through the health system’s annual employee fundraising campaign.
Both Canopy and the Lindig Family Cancer Resource Center offer community members an opportunity to connect with an oncology nurse navigator and use the resource library to learn more about cancer screening and prevention.
“We’re extremely appreciative and grateful to the Lindig family for their continued support,” says Alla Vargo, AART(R), RDMS, service line administrator for oncology services and director of inpatient imaging at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center. “Thanks to them, we’ve been able to grow our services and create this outstanding resource for patients, families, caregivers and the community. Before the Center opened, many of our programs were scattered across the campus. We’re very pleased to have everything available to the public in one convenient location.”
The Center’s free support services include classes in art, nutrition therapy, chair yoga, oncology prehabilitation and wellness, stress relief techniques, smoking cessation and a lymphedema support group. In addition, the Memorial Hermann Cancer Center-Memorial City also hosts classes such as Look Good Feel Better, an American Cancer Society sponsored class held in the Wig, Breast Prosthesis and Bra Boutique.
“Survivorship is not just an end product. We consider patients survivors from the day of diagnosis,” says Jessica Burgess, RN, OCN, Oncology Nurse Navigator at the Memorial Hermann Cancer Center- Memorial City. “As nurses we believe this is an important concept for patients and families to understand.”
Burgess says that staff members at the Lindig Family Cancer Resource Center take a holistic approach, staying focused on the people themselves, rather than the disease. “We treat the disease but there’s also a great emphasis on what is relevant to our patients’ psychosocial and emotional wellbeing,” she says.
“Our patients are very supportive of one another, and we provide a venue for them to connect fact to face.”
Both Canopy and the Lindig Family Cancer Resource Center offer community members an opportunity to connect with an Oncology Nurse Navigator and use the resource library to learn more about cancer screening and prevention.
For directions and more information about programs at Canopy, visit www.thewoodlandscanopy.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To reach the staff at the Lindig Family Cancer Resource Center, call 713.242.3500.