Published on April 06, 2015

Making life easier for cancer patients

cancer patientIt’s never easy to hear the words “You have cancer.”

The diagnosis can trigger emotions (How will this affect my life?) and concerns (Will my insurance pay for this?). These can feel overwhelming—and make coping with the disease difficult.

At Nazareth Hospital, we want to help patients who are struggling with the day-to-day challenges of living with cancer. That’s why we offer something called distress screening to patients newly diagnosed with the disease.

It’s designed to pinpoint problems patients may be having and—most important—provide them with support and solutions.

“Having cancer can be stressful,” says Robert DiDomenico, Administrative Director of the Oncology Program at Nazareth Hospital. “We want to help reduce that stress as much as we can.”

We’re here to help you

Within a few days of starting treatment, cancer patients fill out a private questionnaire that measures their level of anxiety or depression. It takes 10 minutes or less to complete.

The survey includes questions about how the person is feeling—emotionally, physically and spiritually—and whether he or she is worried about things such as paying the bills, getting to the hospital for treatment, quitting smoking or holding down a job.

Immediately after completing the questionnaire, the patient is given a report that lists resources for getting help. A staff member also goes over the report with the patient.

The next step is often a referral to a specialist—such as a mental health expert, social worker, tobacco counselor or spiritual advisor—based on the patient’s needs.

“Whatever’s going on that’s distressing you, we want to help,” DiDomenico says. “In addition to treating your disease, we’re here to help care for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of our patients.”