Addressing the needs of cancer survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic
- The recent COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world and has the potential to disproportionately affect and disrupt the lives of cancer survivors, including those currently in treatment, those who have completed treatment, and those who are now living cancer-free. There are currently over 17 million cancer survivors in the USA  and millions more around the world [2, 3]. Much has been published over the past several decades about the late and long-term effects of cancer treatment, alongside both the challenges and potential solutions to help patients navigate the healthcare system in order to receive high-quality survivorship care [4, 5].
- To date, a number of organizations have provided the cancer survivorship community (both patients and healthcare providers) recommendations pertaining to COVID-19 (Box 1). Unfortunately, at this time, there is limited evidence regarding the impact of COVID-19 on cancer survivors, particularly those who have completed treatment. As the pandemic continues to evolve and scientific evidence emerges, more directed recommendations and guidelines will follow. As editors of the Journal of Cancer Survivorship, the only international peer-reviewed publication dedicated to expanding and disseminating knowledge pertaining directly to this patient population, we wrote this commentary to describe how COVID-19 may impact the physical, psychosocial, and healthcare delivery concerns of cancer survivors. We hope that this information may be helpful in addressing the needs of cancer survivors at the present time and frame the issues that will warrant attention in the future.
- Read more from SpringerLink.org
Tips for Coping with COVID-19: A Resource for Cancer Survivors and Caregivers
- The George Washington University (GW) Cancer Center is pleased to announce the release of Tips for Coping with COVID-19: A Resource for Cancer Survivors and Caregivers. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge us to find new ways to interact as a society and within our communities. For anyone affected by cancer—in treatment, after treatment, or as a caregiver — it is common to have questions or concerns about how to keep as healthy as possible during this unprecedented time. The Tips for Coping with COVID-19 offers a variety of resources to help address questions and concerns.
- Download the tip sheet today by visiting bit.ly/AdvancingCancerSurvivorshipCareToolkit2019
Resources for Patients
How to Prepare When You Have to Travel for Cancer Treatment
- For many people with cancer, traveling a long distance to receive treatment is a necessity. Health care providers may be spread across multiple hospitals and offices, and the specialists you need may be hours away from home. Or, maybe you live in an area, such as a rural location, that has fewer medical facilities and services. Or, the clinical trial you’re in may mean you have to travel to receive the treatment. Learn more at Cancer.net
How to Find a Caregiver When You Have Cancer
- Caregivers play an important role in helping people with cancer during treatment, recovery, and beyond. Longer-term caregiving may be especially necessary for people who have advanced cancer or late or long-term effects from cancer treatment. For some people with cancer, a spouse, child, sibling, or friend can step into a caregiver role to help with daily needs and activities. But other times, you may need to hire a caregiver. For example, you may not have family in town to help with caregiving, or you may need specific medical care from a skilled nurse. You may also need to hire a caregiver to give your regular caregiver a break, called respite care. Learn more at Cancer.net
Female Cancer Support
- Each Moment We're Alive is a resource run by Cynthia Sheridan Murphy, an Author, Workshop Facilitator, Keynote Speaker and Mentor for women and families, helping them thrive through cancer. Learn more at www.eachmomentwerealive.net.
The Verma Foundation
- The Verma Foundation is a non-profit organization that creates custom cap wigs at no cost for women and children fighting cancer and dealing with the emotional side effect of hair loss.
The Dana Farber Cancer Institute Health Library
- Eating Well During Cancer is a video series and resource toolkit features Dana-Farber nutrition specialist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN, and explores how diet can help support your health and wellbeing during and after cancer treatment.
Boston Cancer Support
- Boston Cancer Support's mission is to improve the quality of life for all those affected by cancer in Massachusetts. Our vision is to equip patients, families, caregivers, and healthcare professionals with local information, resources, and collaborative communities that help them navigate the medical, psychosocial and practical challenges of cancer – affording them the best chance at optimal health outcomes.
Ways to Reduce the Financial Burden of Cancer
- The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) would like to announce their newest virtual lecture, Ways to Reduce the Financial Burden of Cancer, with featured speaker Monica Fawzy Bryant, Esquire. Click here to participate.
Glioblastoma Multiforme or GBM Support from Greg's Mission
- "I was 30 years old when he was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), a primary brain tumor. Even though I had the support from my family and friends I didn’t know anyone that could relate to the fight I was about to embark on or beaten the same type of cancer. In 2009 I conducted an exploratory mission to see how many people with a similar diagnosis were in need of support. The result was overwhelming. In 2012 I founded a non-profit called Greg’s Mission. The website is www.gregsmission.org
- Greg’s Mission provides support, HOPE, education, current resources, advocacy and awareness to patients suffering from brain tumors especially Glioblastoma Multiforme (a grade IV primary brain tumor) via phone, email, skype and personal visits. I have dedicated my life to making sure that no person diagnosed with a brain tumor has to go through the experience alone and that no family or caregiver goes without support.
- Since founding Greg’s Mission I have helped over 6300 patients, families and caregivers navigate their brain tumor journey. Additionally, I have or currently volunteer at MD Anderson, Cleveland Clinic, The Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation and Imerman Angels as a patient mentor and advocate. I have spoken at pharmaceutical companies such as MERCK, EMD Serono, EISAI and Arbor Pharmaceuticals. I have also spoken at conferences such as the American Society of Neuroradiology, The International Consortium for Innovation and Quality in Pharmaceutical Development, the University of Iowa Psychosocial Neuro Science Conference, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute Neurosciences Conference and at University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center Patient and Caregiver Conference and the NBTS Phoenix Brain Tumor Walk to name a few. I have been on the radio, television and print media both newspapers and magazines in the United States and Europe.
- Greg’s Mission has become my life. I believe I survived this devastating diagnosis for a reason, which is to provide the much needed support from someone who can honestly say “I know how you feel. I have been in your shoes.” I have walked down a path of uncertainty and continue to do so with patients who are diagnosed with a GBM, their families and caregivers past, present and future.
- In 2015 recognized as one of the Cure Magazines GBM Heroes. This award was given to four people and I was honored to be one of them. This award was for going above and beyond the standard of GBM care. Greg's Mission's primary focus is on GBM patients, caregivers and families.
Resources for Caregivers
If You Have Self-Doubt When Caring for a Loved One With Cancer
- When taking care of a loved one with cancer, it’s natural to feel flooded with emotions—grief, guilt, and just plain old exhaustion. Feelings of inadequacy, doubt, or fear can sometimes pop up, too. Maybe you feel like you do not have the necessary skills to be a caregiver to the patient. Maybe you feel like you will not be able to cope with the potential medical emergencies that could happen. Or, maybe you feel like you are not patient or strong enough. Read more about ways to be strong.
Pediatric Caregiver, Adult Cancer Survivor and Adult Caregiver support
- 4th Angel Mentoring Program/ Cleveland Clinic: The 4th Angel Mentoring Program is a national, free service for patients and caregivers who are matched with trained mentors. While emphasizing one-on-one contact by phone or email, matches are primarily made based on similar age and cancer experiences (diagnosis, treatment, stage, etc.) to offer unique, personalized peer support. They serve adult patients, caregivers, and pediatric caregivers. Contact them at 866-520-3197, www.4thangel.org, or email@example.com.
Lung Cancer Patient and Caregiver Support
LUNGevity provides peer to peer, free, personalized phone and email support service that matches a lung cancer patient or caregiver with a Lifeline Support Partner. Learn more at www.LUNGevity.org.
Chemo Brain in Cancer Patients:
What Is It and How Can It Be Managed?
By Lori Smith, BSN, MSN, CRNP
June 24, 2019
“Chemo brain” is a side effect of chemotherapy that affects cognitive function in cancer patients. Also known as cancer treatment–related cognitive impairment, it is often described as a decrease in mental “sharpness” before, during, and after cancer treatment, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). The length of these effects, as well as their severity, vary. Although there is no test to diagnose the condition, nor specific treatment, some medications and coping strategies have been shown to be helpful in some patients. This slideshow discusses several strategies to manage chemo brain, as well as research on how chemotherapy affects the brain long-term.
1. What is Chemo Brain? According to the ACS, chemo brain is often defined as a decrease in mental awareness during chemotherapy. Symptoms include memory lapses, difficulty concentrating, trouble multi-tasking, and slower thinking and processing while completing tasks. Patients may complain of forgetting things they never had trouble remembering, struggling to find words to complete a sentence, and being unable to recall names or dates. For many, chemo brain can set in quickly and lasts only a short time. Some patients might not even notice changes, but others may find they they affect their everyday life. (Source)
2. What Causes Chemo Brain? Research suggests that chemo brain may be caused by a number of factors, including the presence of cancer itself and treatments like surgery and hormone procedures. Medication used to treat nausea and pain during therapy may also lead to decreased cognitive function. Other studies show that chemo brain may be a function of cancer side effects such as stress/anxiety, depression, low blood count, sleep troubles, infection, and fatigue. Pre-existing conditions in combination with the cancer, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and patient age, are also factors. (Source)
3. Strategies to Help Manage Chemo Brain. While there are no proven therapies to help with chemo brain, there are some strategies that can help patients cope with the unwanted side effect. Using a daily planner, brain exercises, physical activity, and adequate sleep may be effective. Studies have also shown that eating more vegetables can help increase brain power. Experts who have studied memory recommend that patients suffering from memory lapses follow daily routines, develop set places for commonly misplaced objects, and avoid multitasking to help alleviate their symptoms. Doctors should also encourage patients who notice severe chemo brain symptoms to tell friends and family and to keep a diary of incidents to help pinpoint the source of the problem. (Source)
4. Pharmacologic Therapies to Relieve Symptoms of Chemo Brain. While there is no approved treatment or treatment regimen for chemo brain, there are some medications that may be helpful in improving symptoms. Stimulants like methylphenidate, which is used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, may be helpful. Patients may also benefit from donepezil and modafinil, which treat Alzheimer disease and sleep disorders, respectively. (Source)
5. Efficacy of Modafinil for Chemo Brain in Women With Breast Cancer. A small study found that modafinil may improve cognition in women treated for breast cancer. Following 8 weeks of therapy with the drug, researchers found a significant improvement in memory speed, quality of episodic memory, and mean continuity of attention when compared with the placebo arm. The study concluded modafinil may help this population of patients, though confirmation is needed. (Source)
6. Web-Based Cognitive Behavioral Rehabilitation May Be Effective. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that a web-based cognitive behavioral rehabilitation program was more effective than standard of care in adult cancer patients reporting cognitive symptoms. Those assigned to the intervention arm received a 30-minute phone consultation followed by a 15-week, home-based intervention, and patients in this group reported improvements in cognitive function as well as anxiety/depression and fatigue compared with the standard care group. (Source)
7. Link Between Cancer and Long-Term Cognition. Cancer survivors may have an increased risk for developing long-term cognitive dysfunction, researchers say. One study compared twins in which one sibling had cancer while the other did not. When compared with their cancer-free twins, cancer patients were shown to be more likely to experience cognitive dysfunction and dementia. Despite the lack of statistical significance in the odds ratio, there was a two-fold increase in dementia in the cancer survivor group vs the cancer-free twin group. (Source)
See full article at CancerNetwork.com