It’s offering patients education and support. “This meeting will open many doors for them just to let them know that we are there for them, any time they need us. Our services are totally free for the patients,” said Veena Sharma, a nurse navigator with Lee Health.
The new head and neck cancer education program gives patients the opportunity to meet with a dietitian, a rehabilitation navigator, a speech therapist, and a nurse navigator as soon as they are diagnosed.
“The patients themselves have complex needs. A lot of them have social, emotional aspects that are involved as well. There can be a lot of withdrawal, depression, just from going through treatment and not being able to eat,” said Stacey Brill, a speech-language pathologist with Lee Health.
The class discusses treatments and any emotional, medical, and financial barriers that may arise during treatment. “One of the biggest things is, they don’t have an understanding of how the disease is going to affect them or their day to day lives. That’s what we’re here for to help them kind of foresee what’s going to happen so that we can prevent it from happening as severely,” explained Taylor Lawless, a clinical dietitian with Lee Health.
The class also connects patients with the right resources to help them through their treatment. “We have physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, as well as lymphedema therapy provided by cancer rehab clinician. We have support resources. We have support groups. We have education classes for nutrition. We have yoga, massage, and a wellness program,” said Denise Pfeiffer, a rehabilitation navigator with Lee Health.
All can help patients and their families through their cancer journey while giving them the comfort, tools, and support they need.