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Px is the Rx for Connecting with Resources at the Mass General Cancer Center

Photo credit: Mass General

Finding out that you have cancer can affect your physical, emotional, mental, and social health – but knowing where to find resources and having a good support system can make the ride easier.

The Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center is renowned as one of the nation’s top cancer centers, providing customized, innovative treatments and compassionate care to its patients. The Cancer Center recently introduced Px, a new initiative to help cancer patients and their families connect with the various resources available to them.

Cancer affects all aspects of a patient’s life and impacts the people around them; Px provides resources to help, from the logistics of navigating the Cancer Center to finding someone to talk to.

Physical well-being options

The Cancer Center offers integrative therapies that, when used in conjunction with medical treatment such as chemotherapy, can help relieve side effects and improve its efficacy. Gentle yoga, for example, helps reduce stress and fatigue in women undergoing breast cancer treatment. Qigong’s practice of meditating through slow flowing movement and deep rhythmic breathing can help decrease pain and fatigue, while lessening symptoms of anxiety and depression. Tai Chi – with intentional movements like those used in Qigong – helps improve balance, strength, and flexibility. All three can improve a cancer patient’s quality of life.

The Cancer Center employs licensed acupuncturists who apply gentle pressure to reduce stress and side effects of cancer treatment. Massage therapists are also available to help alleviate physical symptoms of the disease and its treatment.

Spiritual and emotional support programs

Sometimes just having someone to talk to about concerns and cancer-related issues can be a blessing. The Cancer Center Chaplaincy Program provides spiritual support to patients and families, regardless of religious background. Experienced oncology social workers are also available to talk. In some cases, dealing with a cancer diagnosis needs more specialized care, and the Center for Psychiatric Oncology and Behavior Sciences has experts in psychiatry and psychology who can help.

A unique offering for parents with cancer, the Marjorie E. Korff PACT (Parenting At a Challenging Time) Program helps these patients who are concerned with the way their cancer impacts their children’s lives.

If patients and/or family members want to talk to someone who has been through the same diagnosis and treatment, the Peer Matching and Peer Guide programs can help. Network members trained as peer mentors share their personal experiences of coping via telephone support.

Resources for easing the stresses of daily life

If you have cancer, you know how costly your treatment can be – even if you have a very good insurance plan. Transportation, hotels, childcare, and time off work also add financial burdens to patients and their families. The Cancer Center developed the Lazarex-MGH Cancer Care Equity Program (CCEP) to provide financial support specifically to patients undergoing clinical trials. In addition, financial counselors are available to answer billing and insurance questions, and help patients apply for government assistance if medical costs are a problem.

Besides the financial stress of having cancer, concerns arise regarding basics like meal preparation, laundry, pet and child care, and home maintenance. Wellist is a free online resource that connects patients and their families with personalized support and service recommendations in the Boston area.

Personal enrichment programs

Sometimes you just need an outlet to express yourself about how it feels to live with cancer. The Cancer Center offers both art and music therapy to help patients creatively express themselves to reduce stress. Anyone involved in the Mass General Cancer Center community can read or contribute to the WWTA Blog, sharing their thoughts and feelings about cancer.

Places to relax and reflect

If you’re looking for a quiet spot or soothing environment, visit the Cancer Center’s Howard Ulfelder, MD, Healing Garden. The hospital’s chapel is available for anyone who needs traditional comfort. Plus, the Center’s ongoing project, The Story Project, offers the stories others have shared about their lives after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Read stories of inspiration, hope, and support that can communicate love and courage to current cancer patients.

Resources for learning about your condition

The Cancer Center provides patient education regarding various cancer treatments and services, targeted cancer care that addresses this rapidly advancing field, and palliative care options that focus on improving quality of life.

The Mass General Cancer Center strives to treat the whole person, and Px provides the consolidated resources to do just that. For more information, visit Px online.