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Newly Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer? Consider These Key Steps

Newly Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer? Consider These Key Steps from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

For those who are newly diagnosed with prostate cancer, figuring out what to do next can be overwhelming. Prostate cancer survivor Jim Schraidt outlines advice for patients to encourage self-advocacy and to access resources and support.

Jim Schraidt is a prostate cancer survivor and Chairman of the Board of Directors for Us TOO International. Learn more about Jim Schraidt here.

Related Resources

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How Does Us TOO International Support Prostate Cancer Patients and Their Loved Ones?

How Could You Benefit from Joining a Prostate Cancer Support Group?

How Can You Insist on Better Prostate Cancer Care?


Transcript:

Jim Schraidt:

If you’re newly diagnosed, get a second opinion on your biopsy slides. Because reading those slides is as much an art as it is a science. And we’ve had people who will come to our support groups who then went on to have their slides reviewed on a secondary basis. And it’s changed their diagnosis. In one case, a guy discovered that he actually did not have prostate cancer.

And in other cases, it’s changed the grading of the cancer that’s identified in the biopsy, which of course then impacts treatment decisions, whether it’s active surveillance, surgery, radiation, or systemic therapy. So, that would be the first thing. I think the other thing, and I that think this is true for most medical issues, is to get a second opinion, take the time to get a second opinion.

And in the case of prostate cancer, try to do it at a medical center that takes a multi-disciplinary approach to the disease. So, you would be meeting at the outset with a urologist, a radiation specialist, and perhaps a medical oncologist who can really take you through the options, the treatment options for your situation.

And then I guess the final of three items that I would say is find a support group. And even if you want to just join one of the virtual groups and listen and learn, that’s perfectly fine. But learn about the disease you have, and learn about the treatment options, and learn the things that you need to ask your medical practitioners to help you get the best outcome.

Because the happy patient is going to be the one that knows what he’s getting into and makes and accepts that as part of his decision and can focus after treatment on healing and not on treatment regret.

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Will Telemedicine Improve My Quality of Life with CLL?

Will Telemedicine Improve My Quality of Life with CLL? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

How do chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients and care partners feel about the impact of telemedicine on quality of life? Watch as a CLL patient and care partner, Bob and Susan, discuss how easier access to blood test results affects patient emotions before and during remote office visits.

See More From the CLL TelemEDucation Empowerment Resource Center

Related Resources:

 

Will Telemedicine Be a Long-Term Survivorship Tool for CLL Patients?

Is Remote Monitoring for CLL Patients on CAR T Therapy the Future?

What CLL Symptoms Can Be Monitored via Telemedicine?


Transcript:

Susan Bottega: 

The role of telemed in terms of survivorship I think is a very, very interesting subject. CLL patients are living a very long life these days with the onset of the novel agents that are coming out. Quality of life becomes a very, very important subject for CLL patients. So much of their quality of life is diminished by the visits that they have to make into doctors’ offices.

The anguish that they spend the day before, the sleepless night that accompanies the doctor’s visit. I think that this is extremely important. You’re looking very possibly of at least two days taken out of your life, and if you’re making these visits on a monthly basis or bi-monthly basis or even tri-monthly basis, that’s a long period of time to take out of the span of your lifetime. And as we’re living longer, this becomes more and more important.

You want to have that quality of life, you want to be able to go on vacations. Your vacations can’t be postponed because you have a doctor’s appointment looming in the future. You can take your computer right along on vacation with you and share your vacation with your doctor.

Bob Bottega:

I like that.

Susan Bottega:

I think the anguish that you feel about blood tests is diminished by it. You don’t have to wait to get the results of your blood tests, your blood tests pop right up on your patient portal. You don’t have to sit there and wait in a doctor’s office until you see those results.

Once you see your doctor, you’ve already got your results and you’re calm about it, you’re relaxed because you know what the results are and you can discuss them without having to deal with the anxiety that comes with hearing, “Okay, my white blood cell count has gone up considerably, so how do I calm myself down to discuss this intelligently at this point in time when I’m emotionally so upset over it?” I think these are very, very important things about the quality of your life. How about you, Bob?

Bob Bottega:

I think you said it all.

Susan Bottega:

Don’t I always? (laughter)

Dr. John Pagel’s Top Tips for Preparing for Your CLL Telemedicine Visit

Dr. John Pagel’s Top Tips for Preparing for Your CLL Telemedicine Visit from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

For chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients, telemedicine has emerged as an option that requires new ways of working with their health team. Watch as CLL expert Dr. John Pagel shares his advice to patients and caregivers for getting the most out of telemedicine visits.

See More From the CLL TelemEDucation Empowerment Resource Center

Related Resources:

 

Will Telemedicine Be a Long-Term Survivorship Tool for CLL Patients?

Is Remote Monitoring for CLL Patients on CAR T Therapy the Future?

What CLL Symptoms Can Be Monitored via Telemedicine?


Transcript:

Stephanie Chuang: 

You had mentioned, patients need to be prepared when they come to their telemedicine visits, doctors have limited time, of course. So what are your top three tips or so for patients and their caregivers who are preparing for their telemedicine visit?

Dr. John Pagel: 

So here’s a good important thing to say around that. Number one, you know, what happens is you’ll get told you have a telemedicine visit at 10:00 AM on Tuesday. And so you’re looking forward to 10:00 AM on Tuesday. And 10:00 AM comes around, and you’re waiting by the phone, and it doesn’t ring immediately, or the Zoom doesn’t come up immediately, please understand you have to be a little bit flexible with your physician. Just because it says that time…it’s the same thing kind of like in the clinic, it all kind of flows and works together. And so please be flexible and be patient. Not accepting excessive delays, that’s not really cool, we get that, but it’s often very hard to be right on the dot at 10:00 AM. So number one, be flexible. Number two, have your questions written out or focused about what you want to learn and understand that visit. It may not be a lot different than the last visit, that’s okay. But if you don’t have those, often, what will happen is that when the visit’s over the phone is hang up or the Zoom call is put away, you’ll remember, “Oh, I forgot to ask X, Y, or Z.” don’t let that happen.

And the way you don’t let that happen is to be focused there with what you want to learn. And then lastly, if it’s possible, don’t be excessive. Meaning that, focus on the things that are important, meaningful, relevant to what’s happening to your health, your disease in your interaction with your physician. There are things that we all can list that could be very, very long in the list, but many of them aren’t going to be something that the physician can get to in a very meaningful, important way. Ask though, if you can’t get to those things that are important, that you try and follow up with them very quickly, perhaps in another visit relatively soon. But keep your expectations, if you could, to a very realistic approach, directed and focused on taking care of you and managing your CLL. 

Will Telemedicine Be a Long-Term Survivorship Tool for CLL Patients?

Will Telemedicine Be a Long-Term Survivorship Tool for CLL Patients? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

With telemedicine as a part of the chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) toolkit, what will its role be in the future? Watch as CLL expert Dr. John Pagel shares his viewpoint of how telemedicine will play into long-term survivorship care for patients.

See More From the CLL TelemEDucation Empowerment Resource Center

Related Resources:

 

What CLL Population Will Benefit Most From Telemedicine?

Is Remote Monitoring for CLL Patients on CAR T Therapy the Future?

What CLL Symptoms Can Be Monitored via Telemedicine?

 

Transcript:

Stephanie Chuang: 

We really haven’t scratched the surface, it seems, when it comes to using telemedicine as a long-term survivorship tool. So for the sub-group of CLL patients who never need treatment, does telemedicine still bring any major advantages?

Dr. John Pagel:

There are people, and it’s not uncommon, who actually never even get treated. I’ve had people in my clinic who have had CLL diagnosed and never treated for over 20 years or more. It does happen. And those people often can be managed with their primary care physician, even though it’s good to have a CLL focused clinician, an oncologist or even expert in their back pocket, but they may only need to have that televisit with that expert or oncologist once a year. So those are the ideal kind of patients who it’s not great to drag them in if there’s nothing going on with them, but they still need to be evaluated and have a discussion about what’s happening, at a minimum once a year in many cases. 

What CLL Symptoms Can Be Monitored via Telemedicine?

What CLL Symptoms Can Be Monitored via Telemedicine? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

For chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients, some symptoms can be monitored via telemedicine, while other symptoms are best to check in-person. Watch as CLL expert Dr. John Pagel discusses getting optimal care by CLL symptom type.

See More From the CLL TelemEDucation Empowerment Resource Center

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What CLL Population Will Benefit Most From Telemedicine?

Is Remote Monitoring for CLL Patients on CAR T Therapy the Future?

Will Telemedicine Be Part of Routine Management for CLL?

 

Transcript:

Stephanie Chuang: 

There are CLL patients on specific treatment protocols and those who need follow-up for potential adverse effects of treatment compliance and, of course, progress. And so the question is, how effective of a tool is telemedicine for this group?

Dr. John Pagel: 

I’ve been very impressed that we can meet the needs of patients, we can meet the needs for clinical trials. Clinical trials have really adopted and been flexible with the idea of being able to do telemedicine in a large degree because of COVID in CLL. And I would say clearly that a conversation and close discussion with the physician’s critically important, it comes back to what we mentioned specifically, it’s about education. Patients need to understand that if they’re not feeling well, meaning, they’re having drenching night sweats or they’re losing weight or they’re having pain, those aren’t things to sit back and just wait for your telemedicine visit, they need to contact the physician and to be able to be seen urgently or quickly if needed. 

Telemedicine is going to be a bridge to make that happen, but in general, those are people that are in a bit of a different class of what we’re discussing here today. So monitoring disease, taking care of people with regard to assessments of their blood counts can be done all again through telemedicine, but more acute problems, those patients do, of course, need to be seen. 

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Will Telemedicine Give More CLL Patients Access to Clinical Trials?

Will Telemedicine Give More CLL Patients Access to Clinical Trials? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Though some with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) may have limited access to clinical trials at expert centers, telemedicine may change access for some patients. Watch as Dr. John Pagel shares how telemedicine might improve CLL clinical trial options. 

See More From the CLL TelemEDucation Empowerment Resource Center

Related Resources:

Will Telemedicine Activate More Remote Tools to Manage CLL?

 

Telemedicine & Second Opinion Options

How Will Telemedicine Impact Time-Limited Therapy in CLL?

Will Telemedicine Activate More Remote Tools to Manage CLL?


Transcript:

Stephanie Chuang: 

There is a lot of attention being paid to clinical trials and progress, and so how might telemedicine impact clinical trials when it comes to CLL therapy?

Dr. John Pagel: 

Well, I want to first tell the audience that clinical trials are critically important for many patients who have CLL. Clinical trials are really an opportunity to get something that’s better than the standard of care most often, or at least just as good and has the promise again, to be better. We have advanced major new paradigm changing therapies over the last many years through clinical trials, and now we’re looking at really exciting things like bispecific antibodies, newer generations of these targeted therapies that are better tolerated and perhaps even more active in resistant patients. And even as we talked about CAR T-cell therapies, those are all only available through clinical trials, and then that’ll continue to evolve and go on as well.
 
I would encourage patients to think about clinical trials, and because of telemedicine, now we’re going to be able to reach to other patients who are further away from an expert, perhaps where clinical trials are only available, and they can be then involved in one of those opportunities. Telemedicine, I hope, and I believe, will be a major advance for getting the cutting-edge, best therapies for patients who might be very far away from a very important expert center. 

Will Telemedicine Activate More Remote Tools to Manage CLL?

Will Telemedicine Activate More Remote Tools to Manage CLL? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

As telemedicine has grown in the management of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) care, will its use bring other remote tools into patient care? Watch as CLL expert Dr. John Pagel explains.

See More From the CLL TelemEDucation Empowerment Resource Center

Related Resources:

 

Telemedicine & Second Opinion Options

How Will Telemedicine Impact Time-Limited Therapy in CLL?

Will Telemedicine Be Part of Routine Management for CLL?


Transcript:

Stephanie Chuang: 

Dr. Pagel, there are tools out there like video otoscopes, electronic stethoscopes, thermoscopes, retinal imaging systems, will CLL patients be able to have access to those tools for themselves one day, and on that note, what are the tools you believe will impact the future of CLL care?

Dr. John Pagel: 

Yeah, in fact, that’s really where we’re going. We do stuff like that already through the hospital. As you may know, as an example, if someone comes in with a cardiac condition, they need to be monitored remotely, they can’t stay in the hospital indefinitely we need to kind of know what’s happening, perhaps as an example with their heart rhythm. So they actually have tools where they can wear a little monitor even on their wrist that communicates with the doctor. So the doctor can see even in real time what’s happening with that individual patient. 

These types of tools are the future, and we’re not going away from them, we’re embracing them. We’re not there yet for routine standard care, especially in CLL but they will be simple things like heart rate, blood pressure measurements that are very simple and easy to do that not only are able to be read by the patient, but actually again, from a remote standpoint, be electronically downloaded and delivered to the physician, real time. That’s going to be important. And actually, I believe that we’ll even add advances for that in the blood work or other approaches in the near future. So just stay tuned we’re just scratching the surface there. 

Stephanie: 

Okay, so you’ve heard it here first from Dr. Pagel, stay tuned on this.  

5 Ways a Patient Portal Can Improve Your Health Care Experience

A patient portal is an online application which gives patients access to personal health information stored in a health care organization’s electronic health records (EHR). If your doctor’s office offers a patient portal, consider these reasons why you should take advantage of the service.

Schedule Appointments

Use the portal to request or schedule appointments with your health care providers.

Request Refills

Giving you a convenient way to request refills should make it easier for you to keep up with refills and avoid lapses in the medication regimen. One study found that patients who use the portal to request refills of cholesterol medications took the medications more consistently and had better cholesterol levels (compared to patients who didn’t request the refills online).

View your Records

With a patient portal, you gain access to critical health information that was previously locked up in the EHR. A typical portal allows you to view your test results, medications, immunizations, and allergies. A summary of your doctor visits and educational materials may also be available. You have the right to view this information and use it to participate more fully in your health care.

Improve the Accuracy of Your Records

Keeping a list of your medications may seem like a straightforward task for a health care provider using an EHR. However, there are several reasons why your medication list may not be current and accurate, reflecting the name and dose of all the medications you are taking:

  • Human error in entering the medications into the EHR
  • Incomplete information at time of medication entry. For example, in your first visit to a doctor, maybe you remembered the names but not the doses of your medications.
  • Over-the-counter medications are frequently overlooked
  • Providers from multiple health organizations are prescribing medications for you
  • You stopped taking a medication

Fortunately, some portals give you the opportunity to submit corrections to your medication list and other parts of your record. This type of feedback loop is designed to improve the quality and safety of your care. In small pilot study in the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania, patients used the portal to submit corrections such as:

  • Add over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements
  • Add medications prescribed by providers outside the Geisinger system
  • Remove medications they had stopped taking
  • Make corrections in the frequency and doses of medications

Communicate with Healthcare Team

A patient portal allows you to exchange secure messages with your healthcare provider. Rather than wait on hold or play phone tag, you can submit a question at your convenience. The response time may depend on the triage system used by the medical office for electronic messages, the content of your message, and the frequency with which your provider checks messages. A systematic review showed that patients who communicate electronically with their health care team can enjoy improvements in the following health dimensions:

  • Knowledge about their health condition
  • Ability to cope with and manage chronic health issues
  • Blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight (for patients with diabetes)
  • Control of asthma and quality of life (for patients with asthma)
  • Chronic back pain
  • Self-esteem and empowerment
  • Stress, depression, and loneliness

Note that electronic messaging isn’t appropriate in all medical situations.

When You Should (and Shouldn’t) Email Your Doctor

If you don’t already do so, you probably wish you could communicate with your doctor by email. It would align your health care experience with the rest of your increasingly digital life. Who wants to play phone tag or be put on hold when dealing with health issues?

Emailing your doctor is best done through a patient portal linked to your electronic health record (EHR). This allows your doctor to view your medical history, medications, and test results when responding to your email.

Patient-doctor email will likely increase as patient portals become more widespread and federal incentives for email are rolled out. Someday, emailing your doctor may become part of standard medical care.

However, email is not suitable for all health-related situations. Just as there are rules of etiquette for work-related emails, there are a few guidelines for emailing with your doctor. This article will outline a few scenarios where it is appropriate and not appropriate to email your doctor.

Email your Doctor if . . .

You have a straightforward question which can be answered in one or two exchanges.

You can save yourself an office visit by taking care of the issue by email. For example, if you just need a refill of a medication you have been taking for a long time, and you’re otherwise doing well, then an email may save you and the doctor some time. Depending on the nature of the request, the doctor may forward the message to another member of the medical team or office staff. Some offices designate a nurse or assistant to screen all the messages and assign them to the appropriate recipient.

Note that the email exchange may not be free, because doctors can bill for the time they spend responding to your email.

You have been waiting longer than expected to hear about test results or other pending issues. Doctors can easily get bogged down with their responsibilities. A timely reminder from you is helpful.

You forgot or needed some clarification of what your doctor said during a recent visit. It can be tough to remember or process everything that you and your doctor discussed. Sometimes it’s best to tie up the loose ends by email.

You can supply information that your doctor requested, such as home blood pressure readings, or results of a test you had at another health care facility.

Don’t Email Your Doctor if . . .

You are reporting sudden or severe symptoms which could indicate a medical emergency. You may not get an immediate response, and your condition could deteriorate as you wait for a reply. Email in a medical setting is only appropriate for non-emergencies.

You want to discuss a complex issue that would require a lengthy back-and-forth discussion. These issues are best discussed on the phone or in person.

You want to discuss an emotionally-sensitive topic which can’t fully be addressed by email. Facial expressions and body language are important in communication. Sometimes an old-fashioned office visit is best.

You are unsure of the security of the email transmission. Patient portals are designed to be secure. But if you’re emailing your doctor at “Doctor@mail.com”, the message could be intercepted.

Once your email becomes a part of your medical record, other people who have legitimate access to your record may see it.

Caregiver Support: Taking Care of YOU

Caregiver Support: Taking Care of YOU from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Prostate cancer caregivers support patients in many ways, but also need support for themselves. Social worker Linda Mathew details the role of caregivers and shares resources to help them maintain their own self-care.

Linda Mathew is a Senior Clinical Social Worker at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Learn more here.

See more from The Pro-Active Prostate Cancer Patient Toolkit

Related Resources

How Can a Prostate Cancer Social Worker Help You?

Why You Should Speak Up About Your Prostate Cancer Care

Tools for Managing Prostate Cancer Fear and Anxiety


Transcript:

Linda Mathew:

So, caregivers have a really important role in caring for their loved ones, so whether it’s their spouse, or a sibling, or a child, they – their role 1). Is to advocate as well for the patient in terms of saying, “Hey, you know what? Let me call the doctor’s office. This side effect was on the list, but I’ve noticed that it’s ongoing, so let me reach out to the office for you if you’re not feeling well.”

They are the eyes and ears for their patient or for their loved one in terms of just saying, “Something is not right. Let me call.” And, most of our nurse practitioners or nurse office practice nurses will say to the caregiver, “You are our eyes and ears when you’re at home. When the patient is here, we’re the eyes and ears for that person to assess what’s going on.”

But also, the caregiver really – sometimes, what happens is there’s a role reversal, so they become that emotional support for the loved one, the financial support, practical support, and also the spiritual support for their loved one, and we remind them that is your – that is a huge role to play, and there’s no handbook for it, but we have resources for you, so you’re not alone in that process.

And, the one thing we really stress is here at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, we recognize the important role of our caregivers and how important they are to the loved one that they’re caring for. So, with that resource-wise, the social work department has a program called Reach for Caregivers, and it’s a hospital-wide program that we offer support groups as well as educational workshops.

And then, in November, being Caregiver Month, we put on a lot of different programs just for our caregivers to know we recognize you, we know you need the support, so here it is. So, in terms of support groups we offer, it’s all online because we know that sometimes, the caregiver is also working outside of the home, so to help meet them where they are, we’ve offered an online support group that they can tap into during their lunch hour, or even after work.

Why You Should Speak Up About Your Prostate Cancer Care

Why You Should Speak Up About Your Prostate Cancer Care from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What are the benefits of prostate cancer patients speaking up about their care? Linda Mathew discusses the impact of patients taking an active role in their care.

Linda Mathew is a Senior Clinical Social Worker at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Learn more here.

See more from The Pro-Active Prostate Cancer Patient Toolkit

Related Resources

How Can a Prostate Cancer Social Worker Help You?

Tools for Managing Prostate Cancer Fear and Anxiety

Caregiver Support: Taking Care of YOU


Transcript:

Linda Mathew:

Our medical team is really open about having discussions. So, 1). Our team is not blind to knowing that our patients may want a second opinion just to validate “Hey, is this – do I have all of the information laid out in front of me?”, and we always say it’s like – it’s always good to have that second opinion just to say, “Ah, what’s been told to me is correct, and it goes in line with what I’m reading on the different websites for these places that I’m going to for possible treatment.”

I always tell our patients also that you are your best advocate, so you know what your needs are, and if it means that you need more information before you make a final decision, then do it.

So, if it means talking to other people or going for a second opinion, then go ahead and do that, but I also tell our patients if you’re scared about asking a question, if you’re not – that’s a huge issue. If you’re scared to ask a question to your medical team, that means that, in itself, says, “Hey, is this the right fit?” So, I always encourage our patients, “Our team knows that you want to ask a question. Just go ahead and ask it. You’re not going to embarrass them; you’re not going to embarrass yourself. That’s what your physician and the nurse are there for.”

I think the one thing I would want to stress is that you, the patient, knows themselves. They know what their needs are more so than anybody else, so if that means that you feel like something is missing, then speak up, let us know, and if you don’t feel saying it to the nurse at the moment when you’re in a visit, you can always reach out to the social worker, who can help direct that question back to the team or help you find a way to ask that question either via the portal or an email to the medical team.

Tools for Managing Prostate Cancer Fear and Anxiety

Tools for Managing Prostate Cancer Fear and Anxiety from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Fear and anxiety are common feelings that arise while living with prostate cancer. Social worker Linda Mathew explains how she helps patients improve quality of life while living with prostate cancer.

Linda Mathew is a Senior Clinical Social Worker at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Learn more here.

See more from The Pro-Active Prostate Cancer Patient Toolkit

Related Resources

How Can a Prostate Cancer Social Worker Help You?

Why You Should Speak Up About Your Prostate Cancer Care

Caregiver Support: Taking Care of YOU


Transcript:

Linda Mathew:

The common fears and worries that they have are – form the support group itself, the main ones that we always hear are the incontinence and erectile dysfunction. So, we really focus on what that means for them as men because it is their manhood, and their biggest concern is “No one told me I was going to have incontinence for this long. I thought it was going to end after a couple months of recuperation from surgery.”

And, we remind them your body has just gone through a shock in terms of having a prostatectomy, and so, it’s your body having to realign and remember what to do again in terms of taking care of itself. Just the same way as in erectile dysfunction, that is possible after having a prostate surgery – prostatectomy, so we remind them there are resources we have here to help address sexual health. So, I am obviously going to refer our patients to our men’s sexual health clinic, which is run by Dr. Mulhall and his team. So, those are the two areas that they really bring up, and it’s also in terms of “Can I have a relationship?” if they’re single, or “How do I let my significant other know that I’m having these issues?”

And, I always – I’m always encouraging our patients “Let’s talk about how to have that conversation if you’re scared of having it. What does that look like for you? What do you think is the worst thing that would be said to you? Let’s approach it from that end in terms of saying here’s some tools for you to have that discussion with your significant other.”

I start off with validating their feelings. I think that’s really important for our male population, is just that it’s okay to feel anxious, and anxiety is real, and with this population, PSA anxiety is very real. So, it’s going in for those three-month checkups to say, “How is my PSA doing? Am I in the right track?”, and just giving them that validation like, “It’s normal. What you’re feeling is normal.”

It relieves a lot of their anxiety because then, they’re thinking, “Okay, I’m not the crazy one here. Yes, what I’m going through – this uncertain journey that I’m on – everyone’s feeling this, no matter what the diagnosis is.” And then, I just – we talk about what it means for them, like what does this cancer diagnosis mean for them. Most of our men are always like – they want something that can be like there’s a solution-oriented process to it, and there’s no solution-oriented process to this, so it’s about how do you sit in that ambiguity, that uncertainty of this journey, and what can you do for yourself that you feel like you’re in control of?

So, for our prostate cancer patients, knowing that there are other people out there that they can talk to is a relief for them, that they’re able to know that there might be a group of men who can say, “Hey, I was there right where you were when I was initially diagnosed in terms of anxiety, in terms of not knowing how to make a decision about treatment plans or treatment options, but maybe my two cents can help you.”

A lot of patients that come to my support group, which is through the Resources for Life After Cancer program, really find that connection helpful because you’ve been given so much information, and you’re feeling overwhelmed by “How do I make this choice – a good choice – for myself?”, connecting with other men who’ve been given the same options, and made a decision, and see where they are now in treatment helps release – decrease the anxiety, but also gives them some relief in terms of not feeling like there’s pressure to how to choose the right answer, or the right recommendation, or the right treatment plan.

How Can a Prostate Cancer Social Worker Help You?

How Can a Prostate Cancer Social Worker Help You? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

How can a prostate cancer social worker help patients and their families? Linda Mathew, a senior social worker, shares how she provides support for patients and their loved ones after diagnosis, during treatment, and beyond.

Linda Mathew is a Senior Clinical Social Worker at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Learn more here.

See more from The Pro-Active Prostate Cancer Patient Toolkit

Related Resources

Tools for Managing Prostate Cancer Fear and Anxiety

Why You Should Speak Up About Your Prostate Cancer Care

Caregiver Support: Taking Care of YOU

 


Transcript:

Linda Mathew:

Hi, I’m Linda Mathew, and I am a senior social worker here at MSK. I am a supervisor in the Department of Social Work, but I also have a service, and I work with the urology service, so, both medicine and surgical patients.

 And, really, it’s just – I’m here as clinical support to our patients in terms of individual counseling, couples counseling, family counseling.

So, what we really do is we provide supportive counseling to our patients. So, in terms of when we say “supportive counseling,” if patients are anxious, or have some depression around the diagnosis, or have just fears around what that – what it means to have a cancer diagnosis and the uncertainty about what that journey will look like, they are referred to me to just process that out loud in terms of questions about themselves and how – how are they going to manage a diagnosis if they’re going to be on chemotherapy or questions about how to support their family around this diagnosis if they don’t even know how to have this conversation with their family.

Most times, if it’s a couple that come in, it’s around how do I support the patient as well as the caregiver through the trajectory of this patient’s treatment. So, the patient is dealing with their own diagnosis and treatment and what all that means, and the caregiver is also having a parallel process with this where they are caring for the loved one, but also have their own fears about “How do I navigate being a support to them? I don’t know what it means to be a caregiver for somebody who’s going through medical treatment.”

So, we help slow that down for them and say, “These are the things that you need to look out for. Just – you are their extra advocate. You are that person – their eyes, their ears – when they are not able to call the doctor’s office to be able to say, ‘I can call the doctor’s office with this information. Just tell me what you want me to say.’”

But, you’re also just there as a support, so it’s a really weird kind of…reminding our patients the tools that they already have, but because they feel like they’re in a crisis, they forget what those tools are.                

Please don’t feel like you have to figure this out on your own. Your medical team is here for you, social work is here for you, we have an ancillary service – like, services available in terms of the men’s sexual health clinic integrated medicine counseling venture, all in terms of supporting our patients. So, when in doubt – and, if you don’t know who to turn to, just turn to your social worker and ask them. Say, “I need help,” and we’ll guide you through it.