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Mass General Cancer Center to Host Free Cancer Survivorship Conference

A cancer diagnosis is devastating news that affects a patient on many levels — physical, emotional and behavioral — and everyone copes differently. Massachusetts General Hospital  is hosting its annual survivorship conference on October 22 to help patients and their families explore the issues related to cancer treatments and the emotional toll they play.

“Sustaining Hope and Cultivating Resilience: The Emotional Impact of Innovations in Cancer Therapies” is a free half-day program for cancer patients and their families. They can attend informative sessions on immunotherapy, emotional stressors, coping styles and strategies. “[A patient and family panel discussion] provides the opportunity to ask questions and learn things they wouldn’t get in the physician’s office,” says Elyse Park, PhD, Associate Director of the Mass General Cancer Center Survivorship Program.

Keynote speakers are Krista Rubin, NP, Nurse Practitioner; Joseph Greer, PhD, Program Director of the Center for Psychiatric Oncology & Behavioral Sciences; and Lauren DeMarco, MSW, LICSW, ACHP-SW, Oncology Social Work. Emcee for the survivorship conference and panel moderator is Candy O’Terry, Co-Founder and President of Boston Women in Media & Entertainment and Massachusetts Broadcasters Association 2015 Broadcaster of the Year.

Although innovations, such as immunotherapy, accelerate the development of cancer treatments and provide hope, many patients and families struggle with the challenges of treatments and modalities. The conference aims to explore patients’ expectations of how these things impact their wellbeing. Sharing and discussing experiences and feelings can help patients determine coping strategies that work for them while they face an unknown future.

According to the National Cancer Institute, many cancer patients felt they had sufficient support during their treatment, but that transitioning to life after cancer presented new challenges, including late side effects of treatment, self-image issues and general wellness concerns. There are many adjustments to make, and there is the looming fear that the cancer will return.

The conference reinforces the goal of Mass General Cancer Center Survivorship Program: to promote the health and wellbeing of cancer patients after they transition from a focus on oncology care to primary care and prevention. Park says, “We’re hoping to expand the survivorship capacity and bridge with primary care. We want them to be part of our survivorship network.”

Mass General Cancer Center’s survivorship conference is scheduled to run from 9a.m. to 1:30pm on Saturday, October 22, at the Simches Research Center, 185 Cambridge Street, 3rd Floor, Charles River Plaza, Boston. Register now for the event. Parking is free, and lunch is included.