Robert R. Cawley, D.O.
Dover, NH 03802
Good news: people with cancer are now living longer. Many cancers are now treatable as chronic conditions and some can be cured altogether. According to the American Cancer Society, survivorship is expected to increase 25% over the next 10 years.
The term “survivor” refers to anyone with a history of cancer, starting from the time they are diagnosed. The challenge is that people living with cancer often need care beyond the treatment for their acute diagnoses. Survivors may need guidance, for example, on exercise and nutrition to fight the fatigue that can follow treatment. They might benefit from financial counseling to navigate being out of work for months. Or they may find peer support helpful in adjusting to life after cancer treatment.
Now they’ll be able to find this comprehensive approach to specialized care through the enhanced Survivorship, Health and Wellness Program at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. Funded with proceeds from the Seacoast Cancer 5K and the generosity of donors, the program will directly benefit the patients and families of the Seacoast Cancer Center (SCC).
There’s no question that survivorship services will be in demand. “Patient volume at the Seacoast Cancer Center has grown considerably in the last four years,” says Susan Gallagher, Assistant Vice President of Cancer Services. “The number of medical oncology treatments has increased by 38% and radiation treatments by 16%. The center has added services, clinicians and equipment to meet the needs of our Seacoast community.”
Gallagher sees the Survivorship, Health and Wellness program as a natural outgrowth for the SCC. "Like many cancer centers, we’ve evolved over the years from the strictly diagnosis and treatment model of the past. With this new program, we’ll be better able to coordinate and expand upon the full scope of cancer care that we now offer,” she says. The Survivorship, Health and Wellness program enhances the expertise needed to develop and monitor care plans for the growing number of survivors. Services help patients regain and improve their health for the long term and are individualized, based on their specific needs. Care plans may include things like smoking cessation programs, fitness and physical rehabilitation, as well as seminars and workshops for both survivors and their families.
“These services used to be ‘nice to have,’” observes Gallagher. “They’re now considered ‘need to have’ for comprehensive cancer centers.” The SCC has a strong reputation for being a leader in cancer treatment and innovation. It was one of just 42 cancer programs in the country—and the only one in New Hampshire—recognized for outstanding quality care by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer in 2016.
And there’s more good news: the Survivorship, Health and Wellness program won’t be starting from scratch. “Wentworth-Douglass already offers many of these services,” says Judith Geaghan, LICSW, Community Outreach Coordinator at the SCC. “Charitable investments will allow us to hire a director to coordinate these services for survivors. It will also seed innovation, jumpstarting new programs—physically or virtually—that will improve the patient experience and enhance outcomes.” This suite of programs will benefit those who receive follow-up care at the SCC at Wentworth-Douglass in both Dover and Portsmouth, with the Pease location opening in 2019.
In this case, philanthropic support is a game-changer for the Seacoast Cancer Center. “Most of these services aren’t covered by insurance,” observes Gallagher. With the growing support of the Seacoast Cancer 5K, corporate and individual donors, Wentworth-Douglass is able to keep evolving to provide extraordinary care to cancer patients and their families. “With this significant investment in Survivorship, Health and Wellness, the Seacoast Cancer Center will further distinguish itself as a leader in comprehensive cancer care on the Seacoast. Best of all, we’ll be able to care for the mind, body and soul of patients so they not only survive, but also thrive.”