The UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Comprehensive Cancer Support Program (CCSP) has expanded its program for cancer survivors in North Carolina, and this spring will offer nearly 30 free workshops for survivors across the state.
Through the N.C. Cancer Survivorship Provider Action Network (NC-CSPAN), cancer survivors and their loved ones can participate in a free, four-week educational program on nutrition, exercise, coping with stress and medical care. The program seeks to engage survivors to smooth the transition from active treatment.
“During active treatment, you have appointments, you have scans, you are taking medicines, and there are a lot of people helping you with what to do and when to do it,” said Donald Rosenstein, MD, director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Support Program and founder of the network. “When some patients come to the end of their treatment, sometimes they feel a bit lost at sea, and wonder: What do I do next? We want to engage patients and caregivers to be more active participants in their survivorship; to be more knowledgeable, and more engaged.”
NC-CSPAN is now in its third year, funded initially by a $461,750 matching grant from The Duke Endowment. Program leaders used the grant to train a network of health care professionals and educators to deliver “Cancer Transitions: Moving Beyond Treatment,” an evidence-based psycho-educational and wellness intervention. The program will also be offered in Spanish in Chapel Hill, Charlotte and Winston-Salem.
The wellness program focuses on a range of topics, including nutrition, exercise, stress management and medical care. In a survey of program participants, Michelle Manning, program administrator for the CCSP, said many reported they learned how to have more control over their emotional responses to cancer, felt control over side effects of treatment, and had a better understanding of how to personalize an exercise plan, among other benefits.
“We’ve looked at the period of time in the transition between active cancer treatment and post-cancer care as an important teachable moment; an opportunity when people are still experiencing the physical and psychological impact of having the diagnosis of cancer, and now they’re moving on to what comes next,” Rosenstein said. “That’s really an important time for a lot of people who kind of stop and say, ‘now is when I want to stop smoking.’ Or, ‘now is when I want to get in better shape.’ Or, ‘I’ve been anxious or depressed for a long time, maybe it’s time for me to address that.’”
The World Health Organization estimates that approximately one-third of cancer deaths are due to preventable behavioral or dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, and tobacco and alcohol use.
NC-CSPAN has used a “train the trainer” approach to educate health care providers across the state. The goal is to provide direct survivorship care and build the capacity to deliver additional survivorship programs in the future. Program leaders have trained four cohorts of providers – including nurses, social workers, nutritionists, patient educators, and other health professionals – through workshops in Chapel Hill, as well as through video conferences.
“The hope is that by identifying and training this network of providers, if there are other types of interventions related to cancer survivorship that we might be able to roll out, we’ll have an engaged workforce,” Rosenstein said.
A full list of workshop locations is available online at http://unclineberger.org/ccsp.
For more information about the program, contact Mindy Gellin, CCSP program manager, at email@example.com.
About The Duke Endowment
Based in Charlotte and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $3 billion in grants. The Endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations.
About the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Support Program
UNC Lineberger’s Comprehensive Cancer Support program is a multidisciplinary program dedicated to helping patients, caregivers and families with cancer treatment, recovery and survivorship. Our home base is the on the first floor of the N.C. Cancer Hospital, the Patient and Family Resource Center. Services include multiple programs and services including: counseling and mental health services, education, integrative medicine, supportive care, exercise and nutrition support, survivorship programs, and more.