Tag Archive for: pharmacist

Empowering CLL Patients for Treatment and Survivorship

Empowering CLL Patients for Treatment and Survivorship from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

How can chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) experts help empower patients? Expert Dr. Danielle Brander explains ways that she helps her patients prepare for treatment and survivorship.

Dr. Danielle Brander is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Hematologic Malignancies & Cellular Therapy at Duke University Medical Center. Learn more about Dr. Danielle Brander.

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Lisa Hatfield:

“As a CLL expert, how do you help empower your patients so they can get the most out of their CLL treatment and survivorship? How do you work with them as a team to make sure, I guess they’re having the best outcome they can?”

Dr. Danielle Brander:

Absolutely. So it starts at the start. I guess so for conversations, meaning for those that don’t need treatment right away building the relationship, understanding how I can help patients and their caregivers help, for example, they like to learn how much they want to know, what resources can I connect them with. And then I think it’s important for them to have other team members that they can go to and talk to and hear it from, because sometimes the same information we can just share in different ways or approach differently. The nurse on our team or our pharmacist or I work with a wonderful group of nurse practitioners and physician assistants as well. And so from the beginning, I want patients to feel free to ask the questions that come to mind.

It’s amazing, of course, during the course of the visit when you’re going over your labs and that, that sometimes it’s easy to forget the questions you came in with. So, of course, anytime you can write them down before coming in, write them down and then maybe prioritize because all of us…I think it’s hard to remember everything. So prioritizing the questions we want to make sure we get to and go over as well as know that these same questions are going to mean different things to you the longer you’re living with your CLL. And so it’s okay to ask the same questions. Again, there’s never a question that any of us mind going over several times. And then just know how the team can help you. You know, are you coming? How much information do you want?

How much input do you want us to put? And what is your importance and priority? At the end of the day, I want all patients to know no one knows what it is, like living with it. No one knows what’s most important as much as you and your family or your caregiver team does. And I learn just as much from patients and the way they share their experiences. There’s a lot we can look at a group of patients with CLL and say how different each patient’s experiences, who needs treatment or not, who has side effects or not. But no one’s going to know as much as as you do living with it. And it’s our hope to help you wherever you are in your journey or whatever ways that we can help you.

Lisa Hatfield:

Well, and I appreciate your comment that we can ask the same questions over and over if we need to. I know my oncologist when I first met with him, I felt guilty taking in more than two questions, but right before he moved, I took in a long, I rolled up a piece of paper, a long scroll, and I said, I have some questions for you, but I knew they were all repeat questions. But it does give us a little bit of peace of mind just hearing it again from somebody, especially in those initial phases of treatment, just hearing it, even if you have to hear it again and again. So thank you for mentioning that. It makes us feel a little more confident in taking those concerns to our providers, even if they’re repeated concerns. 

Lisa Hatfield:

Dr. Brander, it’s these conversations that help patients truly empower themselves along their treatment journey. And on behalf of patients like myself and those watching, thank you very much for joining us.

Dr. Danielle Brander:

Thank you for having me.

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Acute Myeloid Leukemia Care | Who Are the Essential Team Members?

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Care | Who Are the Essential Team Members? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) care is not just monitored by an oncologist or hematologist – there’s an entire medical team. Dr. Jacqueline Garcia, an oncologist and AML researcher, shares an overview of the various members of the healthcare team and the role they play in overall care.

Dr. Jacqueline Garcia is an oncologist and AML researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Learn more about Dr. Garcia.

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Katherine Banwell:

Typically, there are a number of team members to care for a patient. Who is part of an AML healthcare team?  

Dr. Jacqueline Garcia:

Absolutely. We definitely cannot work on our own. Our team is very large, and it’s because these patients require a lot of support. At a bare minimum, a healthcare team will include at least one physician or an oncologist. The AML healthcare team might also include a second oncologist – that could be a bone marrow transplant doctor.  

Other members that are very critical include having a mid-leveler available that’s a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner. Often, an oncologist who runs a busy practice, who takes care of patients that could be very sick, like AML, they work in partnership with often very talented physician assistants and nurse practitioners. I know I do.  

In addition to that, I’m at an academic center so I’m super fortunate. I have really amazing and very smart hematology oncology fellows and residents that also follow to learn how to take care of patients. But we also, in the background, that patients don’t see – we have a pharmacist that helps us with making sure that drugs are prescribed correctly. They often call the patients with oral therapies to follow up. We have financial resource teams to help patients, to link them to LLS for support for bills that might come up, or transportation, or linking them up to other services that could help to defray or reduce costs.  

So, the healthcare team is quite extensive. But in terms of those that are patient-facing, it’s primarily the MDM that are mid-leveler. Some teams operate also with a nurse or a nurse care coordinator. That’s pretty common, too. And that person helps to not only schedule but also to answer pages or phone calls from patients if the medical team is not doing that.  

Katherine Banwell:

What about a social worker or psychologist? 

Dr. Jacqueline Garcia:

Oh. Yes. Yes. So, absolutely. So, every patient can be offered, if needed, access to an inpatient or outpatient social worker. Often, if my patients are admitted we have them see a social worker because that’s fairly seamless. Otherwise, for outpatient, if we identify any particular needs or there’s an interest, we’ll link them up with a social worker. This is the same that goes for physical therapy, or nutritionists, or those other ancillary services that can be really critical when patients are getting started.  

What Can MPN Patients Expect When Starting a New Treatment?

What Can MPN Patients Expect When Starting a New Treatment? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What can myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) patients expect when starting a new treatment? Dr. Naveen Pemmaraju shares advice about potential issues that can occur and key points to discuss with your pharmacist to ensure optimal care.

Dr. Naveen Pemmaraju is Director of the Blastic Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Neoplasm (BPDCN) Program in the Department of Leukemia at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Learn more about Dr. Pemmaraju, here.

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Katherine Banwell:

We have a question from a newly diagnosed PV patient. Sharon says, “I’m just about to begin Jakafi. What can I expect?”

Dr. Pemmaraju:   

Yeah, great question, right? So, with ruxolitinib or Jakafi, I think the biggest couple of points here is, for what’s known, this is the first-in-class JAK inhibitor that we have the most experience with.

So, now we have over a decade-plus of experience. I guess general things are general, right? This is not specific medical advice. That’s not the intention of this program. But, in general, I would stick with what’s on the package label insert, and there are a couple things we know.

One is this is a highly effective drug. This drug, which we have tested now in multiple, multiple, multiple different trials in myelofibrosis, polycythemia vera, now approved in a form of graft-versus-host disease, different doses. So, I would say check the dose for your particular disease and indication. Double-check it with your pharmacist. Make sure there are no drug-to-drug interactions.

Number two, I think what’s important is that some patients on this drug can experience immunosuppression. So, that means that you may be at risk for some infections, and there’s some nice literature about that.

So, check with your doctor about that, particularly reactivation of old infections, looking out for viral infections, such as herpes zoster or shingles. And then I think the other key here is to watch out for the modulation of your disease. So, a lot of folks have big spleens, Katherine. Those shrink down. Then patients get their appetite back, they’re able to eat, and so some people can have weight gain that then goes the other way. So, these are some of the things you want to watch out for.

But, in general, read the package insert. If you have the ability to, it’s worth reading the – if you can, read the paper, right? Go read the New England Journal paper or – if you can look at that. And then make sure you talk to your local pharmacist and ask the same question there. You might be surprised at some tidbits and pearls you can pick up.