March is my time to Celebrate the coming of Spring and my Birthday! I am so grateful to share my special day with my husband, ‘children’and grandchildren. It is also a Celebration of 28 years that Jack is Living with Cancer.
Cancer is an awful disease to face, but thankfully there are an increasing number of resources available to patients and caregivers over the past 15 years. One of the potential resources available is seeking a consultation with an expert in the field to partner with your current medical team.
There are so many types of cancer and each has very specific features and treatments. There are new drugs coming along almost every month and each patient is ‘unique’.
What works for 1 person may not work for another. It can be so confusing and overwhelming for the patient and the caregiver. The relationship you have with your physician and health team is vital – but often it can be enhanced by a consultation with another expert.
You are entitled to ask your oncologist/hematologist for a referral to a specialist for a consultation or ‘2nd opinion’. It doesn’t mean that you don’t like or trust your current doctor, but no one knows everything and your priority has to be to make sure you get the best and latest information. A 2nd opinion/consultation can help the Caregiver as well as the Patient. There is so much information to take in about all the recent clinical trials and studies in oncology. Having a specialist review current treatment and explain the latest in the cancer that your patient has can reduce both of your anxieties.
Cancer should be a ‘Team’ effort between you-the caregiver, your patient, and the cancer experts. There are side effects and consequences for every treatment and knowing what they are, can help you make better decisions.
Reassurance can often be the best ‘result’ you can get from a Specialist consultation. Reassurance about the great care one is already receiving can give you greater peace of mind.
We have so much responsibility and having an ‘expert’ who is objective and also knowledgeable helps us make better choices and reduces our stress.
Access to new clinical trials that aren’t available at your current treatment facility is another great benefit of a consultation. There are many exciting new drugs and having access to these may have a profound impact on your cancer patient’s quality of life and overall Survivorship!
Spring is coming and getting a ‘fresh perspective can help you and the one you care for.
By sharing and working together, we can build a Cancer Caregivers Community and improve the quality of life for the patient and caregiver!
Barbara Kavanagh, MSW, LICSW, Founder and Ceo,AzMN
Next month, learn more about what other cancer caregivers are doing!
Barbara Baroff Kavanagh, MSW, LCSW
Barbara B. Kavanagh is the Founder and CEO of Arizona Myeloma Network (AzMN). She is a published author and served as faculty for universities including Boston University, Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, and Arizona State University. She holds a master’s degree in Social Work from Boston University and a bachelor’s from Duke University. Her first business, People to People Associates, Inc., a counseling, consulting, and training company, operated for fifteen years in Lexington, Mass.
AzMN is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization started in 2004 by Barbara and her husband Jack who is a 27-year survivor of multiple myeloma. In 2003, they moved to Arizona to be near the Mayo Clinic for his ongoing treatments. In 2005, Barbara organized the first of many Living with Myeloma Roundtable and Conferences in Scottsdale, AZ. The conference attracted more than 300 attendees annually. All AzMN programs are designed to educate cancer patients, cancer caregivers, oncology healthcare professionals, researchers, and the public on the newest in cancer treatments and how to give and receive the best possible care.
AzMN has delivered hundreds of cancer patient and caregiver conferences throughout the State. Multiple Cancer Caregiver Education Program (CCEPTM) conferences are scheduled in 2018. Conferences are free and open to the public. They provide cancer patients and their caregivers the practical knowledge, skills and strategies necessary to effectively care for themselves. CCEPTM is a customizable program for companies and healthcare organizations that want provide onsite training for employees and constituents.
The Office of the Governor of Arizona recognizes AzMN with a proclamation annually designating a week in March as “Arizona Myeloma Awareness Week.” AzMN is recognized by Great Nonprofits as a “Top-Rated Nonprofit” for multiple years. Barbara, herself, continues to receive awards for her work. She is the recipient of the prestigious Hon Kachina Outstanding Volunteerism Award, The Phoenix Business Journal’s Healthcare Hero Award, the Arizona Rural Healthcare Association Volunteer of the Year award and the 2014 Arizona Business Magazine’s Healthcare Leadership Award for Community Outreach. She was profiled as a Woman of Distinction in the 2016 edition of WOD Magazine. She is featured on radio, television, and in publications.
Barbara and Jack are mentioned in Tom Brokaw’s book A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope. Her books on volunteerism and patient advocacy include The New Volunteerism, A Community Connection; The New Partnership: Human Services, Business and Industry; and Training Volunteers in the New Millennium: An International Connection reflect a life dedicated to teaching and mentoring others to achieve their goals and transform their own lives and those they touch. She is currently working on her next book “Caring for the Cancer Caregiver”. Her intent is to provide practical information on how to navigate the complex world of cancer patient and caregiver survivorship.