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Caring for the Whole Patient-for Nurses, It Comes Naturally

By Mike Hennessy
Mike Hennessy

OncLive Chairman,
Mike Hennessy

More and more Americans are embracing complementary medicine to help manage their illnesses alongside conventional therapies, and in oncology, nurses know well how important these interventions can be to improving patient and survivor quality of life.

In this month’s cover story, we talk with several experts who rightly recognize the oncology nurse’s critical role in this arena—not only in supporting patients’ efforts to find relief from the rigors and emotional stressors of a cancer diagnosis and treatment, but also in optimizing the safe use of integrative approaches.

This role includes opening up a dialogue with patients about complementary therapies, identifying licensed providers who have experience treating patients with cancer and survivors, and making sure that those therapies patients are adding to their conventional treatments become part of routine nursing assessments.

A healthy diet is an essential aspect of holistic care of the patient with cancer right through to the survivorship phase, and in this issue, oncology nutrition experts from the John Theurer Cancer Center offer a wide array of ideas and strategies for promoting patients’ nutritional health during treatment and to assist them in maintaining healthy eating habits after treatment and thus lower their risk of recurrence.

Also in this issue, we feature our recent interview with one of the leading experts in the field of occupational exposure to toxic substances, Melissa McDiarmid, MD, MPH, who heads the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the University of Maryland. McDiarmid, who was named an Oncology Nursing Society honorary member last year, says that the evidence is in on the carcinogenic, reproductive, and other health risks posed by exposure to hazardous drugs, and it’s time to stop arguing and focus on the solution. We couldn’t agree more.

Our strategic alliance partners are once again sharing practical ideas to enhance cancer and survivor care, among them, the “Heels of Hope” patient navigation program at the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center where volunteers team up with patient advisors and healthcare staff to provide nonclinical support to patients—identifying and resolving barriers to care and providing emotional support. At the Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven, an innovative writing program is helping patients to heal by sharing their stories, and at Case Western Reserve University’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, leaders are placing a priority on ensuring that oncology nurses are trained to provide quality palliative care to patients and their family caregivers.

We hope these research highlights, conference coverage, and expert insights will help you in your practice. We invite you to share your comments and suggestions, and as always, thank you for reading.
Mike Hennessy 

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