Ovarian Cancer Community
To all those experiencing cancer
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To all those experiencing cancer

Hello to all -

Please do not regard the following as insensitive or offensive. I wish to inquire of those of you who have either suffered from cancer or are currently suffering from the disease.
I am a student studying design whose senior thesis project involves building a cancer research and therapy center that provides the best care possible. As such, I am interested in hearing feedback from those who have experienced various cancers. Those who are in such a space as a therapy center experience it first-hand and, therefore, must enjoy the space. I hope to make patients, families, and staff feel very comfortable in the space.

Questions:


For those of who you have experienced a therapy center, how did it make you feel? Please comment on the environment of the space.

For those of you who are supporting those experiencing cancer, how would you like to support your loved one or family member?

Imagine a center that provided anything you wanted – what would these things be? What would make your experience the best it could possibly be? Be creative.

Thank you so very much!

Christina
7 Comments
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I think these are very good questions. For those who provide the treatment, they should hear how it feels to be a patient in such a serious situation. People are more than weight, BP and diseases. They have feelings and respond to how they're spoken to and handled. I imagine the feed back on this will vary widely.

I have friends that have gone through treatment or are still going through treatment. So much depends on where they go. Some places are clean and clinical, do the job and send you home. Others offer a peaceful, considerate and caring touch. My one friend told me the other day that she feels like her nurses and doctors are almost like family now. That makes going in so often more tolerable.

And for those of us who want to offer support, sometimes we say or do the wrong things. We mean well but since we haven't been in that position, we don't understand. It would be good to know what is helpful and what isn't. I read a book awhile back that was from a patient's perspective. Obviously it varies from one person to another but it was a real eye opener. Even the things we often say or do to encourage can really hurt. We need to know more.
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Thank you for your input.
What you suggested - raised awareness and acting in a considerate fashion - is so very important but is unfortunately regarded as a non-important issue. Having done a great amount of research, with more to follow, I have been made aware of the many controversies and issues surrounding the various cancerous diseases. Many times, cancer acts as a cash cow for treatment centers. As such, quick and efficient care is put at the forefront of importance and other approaches put on the back burner. Even if alternative or complementary therapies are used they are typically expensive and not an option for most. I hope that someday a more loving, effective approach will become the universal standard. How can one know how it feels to experience such a trial without going through it oneself? Empathy is what society needs.
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That's why my husband is involved with hospice care and why we've been involved with "No One Dies Alone" program where some patients in a hospital setting have no friends or family that can or want to visit. The nurses pop in when they can but they have other patients too. This volunteer work was an eye opener.

I'm not sure how to teach people empathy in such a fast paced society. Some get it, some don't. Doesn't mean we can't try.
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Hi Christina, I found when taking my mom to appointments the simplest things were appreciated.  From the volunteers handing out smiles, juice and snacks while patients waited for appointments to the comfortable seating, large open bathrooms (my mom used a walker and you'd be surprised at how many bathrooms in medical clinics and hospitals are the minimum size for handicapped people!), and even large dr offices so family can sit comfortably at the appointment with the patient.  
I hope this helps you.
Debbie
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I had never heard of this program - you mentioning it caused me to do a bit of research on the subject. Involving the family seems to be a theme throughout conversation regarding cancer care.
As for empathy, as soon as priorities are changed is when people may realize just how important it is. This is something I would like to change.
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Thank you, Debbie. Your answer gave me a great amount of insight as to what a family member might want in a treatment center. Acting as a support figure for those experiencing cancer is equally important to the treatment itself; unfortunately, this is often forgotten. I wish to integrate the family/support system into the design of a treatment center. You mentioned the ADA compliancy, which I also think is very important. Minimum standards are not always the best standards.
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This program was started by a nurse at OHSU (Oregon Health and Science University). Too often she saw people that were in the final stages of death, whatever the cause, and family couldn't be there or due to some falling out, didn't want to be there. She knew how important it was to have someone near because a dying patient can often still hear and think and be afraid. She started the program, enlisted the help of volunteers and when a patient was in the final few days, she would call a volunteer to come and sit. We would play music, hold a hand, talk softly, whatever might reach the patient and give comfort. I think it's a wonderful idea.
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