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Facing Cancer Head-On

February 2022 Vol 8 No 1
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
University Distinguished Service Professor of Breast Cancer,
Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Co-Developer of Work Stride—Managing Cancer at Work
Johns Hopkins Healthcare Solutions

Hello everyone, and welcome to our first issue of 2022.

I hope that you are weathering the COVID-19 pandemic as best you can, remaining safe and healthy. It has certainly been a challenge now for 2 years caring for patients with cancer, who often must receive surgery and other cancer treatments without family members being physically present for support.

This issue of CONQUER magazine includes many patient stories and family experiences. You will find a story about a patient’s unusual diagnosis of thyroid cancer that physically presented as shoulder pain, which is most uncommon. Find out what her challenges were during her diagnosis and treatment, and how things are going for her today.

Ovarian cancer is known for being a tough type of cancer to beat, so I hope reading a story written by a patient who has done so is heartwarming. Ovarian cancer is one of the more subtle types of cancer in women that usually does not display early symptoms, making it difficult to be diagnosed early, when it is most treatable. It therefore remains a difficult cancer to treat.

When a family loses a loved one to cancer, it is always heart wrenching. In this issue, we present a story written by a mother whose daughter died of bone cancer at age 14. This mother was motivated to participate in the Swim Across America events—swimming for her daughter, actually taking her daughter’s place, who could no longer do that.

In this issue we are continuing the bedside advocacy series, presenting part 3, which is related to hospice care and end of life—and what the advocate should know about this.

We know that mental health is a serious and growing problem. We’re reminded of this fact through media coverage, social media, and perhaps through our own new-found knowledge that has developed as a result of being isolated for such a long time by the pandemic. But did you know that 85% of patients with cancer have a mental health disorder, or a significant level of emotional distress? Read the article about anxiety, depression, and PTSD, their impact on patients with cancer, and what to do about it.

In this connection, this issue also includes an article about visualization used as a tool to manage stress and anxiety related to a cancer diagnosis, which has been shown to provide help to patients.

This issue also has a story about the Tigerlily Foundation, a patient advocacy organization that was founded by a young African-American woman who had been diagnosed with breast cancer at age 32. Read how her diagnosis motivated her to create this organization and raise awareness about breast cancer among black women, who have a higher mortality rate than white women or women from other races. Find out what she is doing nationally to support young women who are faced with a breast cancer diagnosis.

And as always, this issue has some educational articles related to patients with cancer, including suggestions on how to deal with financial difficulties, and more.

Stay well, connect with others safely, and know that spring is truly just around the corner. Spring is such a wonderful representation of hope. And we all need hope right now.

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