Patients & Families
Patients and Families
Your Healthcare Team

Cancer is more than 200 individual diseases, each with its own unique causes, risk factors and treatments. It takes more than one health professional or clinic to treat and control cancer; it takes an entire healthcare team.

Some of your team members will work directly with you to provide health services and support. Others will help you and your family deal with the physical and emotional impact of cancer. Others work behind the scenes to ensure you receive high-quality care and support.

Cancer Doctors (oncologists) are specialized in treating cancer. You might see a medical oncologist or hematologist (blood disorder specialist) who decides what medications are needed to treat your cancer;you may see a radiation oncologist who is specialized in using radiation to treat cancer or a surgical oncologist who specializes in cancer operations.

Cancer Nurses support and care for you and your family. They help you understand your cancer and its treatment. They may also explain treatment options, often give you the treatment and help you deal with any side effects.

Cancer Patient Navigators
Your cancer patient navigator’s role is to act as your guide through the healthcare system. They can answer many questions or tell you where to get answers to your questions. They can give you information that helps explain the different aspects of cancer and its treatment. They can also connect you with resources in your community.

There are now patient navigators available in eight areas of the province– parts of Cape Breton, South West Health, Pictou County Health Authority, Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority, Annapolis Valley Health and Colchester Health, Cumberland Health, and South Shore Health. View more information about Cancer Patient Navigator’s.

Clinical Dietitians
Clinical Dietitians are trained and skilled in the nutritional care of people with cancer. The dietitian can help you deal with eating problems, weight changes, special diets and nutritional supplements. Before, during, and after cancer treatment the dietitian can also give you nutrition information and answer your questions and concerns about a variety of topics like healthy eating, vitamin and mineral supplements, vegetarianism and alternative therapies.

Dentist: It ia important for you to see your dentist before you start your cancer treatment. Cancer drugs and radiation therapy can cause changes in the mouth, such as soreness or dryness. Your dentist can help you manage mouth problems

Enterostomal Therapy Nurse
An Enterostomal Therapy Nurse is a registered nurse with advanced and specialized knowledge and clinical skills in wound, ostomy and continence care.
An ostomy is an opening in the digestive or urinary tract allows for the elimination of body waste. Some colorectal and bladder cancer patients need ostomies.

Enterostomal Therapy Nurses support cancer patients by providing: pre-surgical education, stoma siting, ostomy care education including return to normal activities of daily living, sexual health and psycho-social counselling, discharge planning and out-patient follow-up.

Family Doctor/ Nurse Practitioner
Your family doctor or nurse practitioner works with the cancer team before, during and after your cancer treatments. During your treatment, it is very important to stay in close touch with your family doctor. Your doctor will receive updates on your progress after every visit to the cancer centre. Your family doctor knows you and your health history and can be a valuable source of help and advice. It is a good idea to make regular appointments with your family doctor during and after your treatment.

Health Interpreters (translators)
Your healthcare team makes every effort to ensure that the needs and expectations of all cultures are addressed. If English is not your first language, your healthcare team can provide a cultural/language interpreter (translator) for you. Do not be afraid to ask for this service. It is important that you understand what your healthcare team says to you about your treatment, and that you understand any instructions they may give you. There is no charge for this service. Your healthcare team has a list of available cultural/language interpreters. Sign language interpreters are also available, upon request.

Palliative Care Team
These professionals work with patients and families to support and provide care related to pain and other symptom management concerns, as well as end-of-life care. The team is usually made up of doctors, pharmacists, social workers, dietitians, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. Their role is to provide you with the best possible care to ensure that you can enjoy the fullest possible range of activities during and after your treatment.

View more information about Palliative Care.
 
Pharmacists help you with your cancer medication. They review your cancer prescriptions carefully so that your medication is prepared and dispensed safely and accurately. They will also give you information on how to take your medicine and what to expect.

Psychosocial Oncology Team
It is common for a cancer diagnosis to create distress of varying degrees for patients and their family members. Your oncologist and nurse are there to help you with this. The psychosocial oncology team also provides help for the psychological, emotional, spiritual, social, family, and symptom management issues that often create distress for patients and their families. Your psychosocial oncology team works with your nurse and cancer doctor. The team includes social workers, spiritual care providers, advanced practice nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists. 

 
   • Advanced Practice Nurses have completed advanced training and help you 
     manage your symptoms, provide education about your cancer and treatment, and 
     provide support and counseling. 

    • Psychiatrists can help you cope with the adjustments and emotional 
     impact of cancer, and may prescribe medication to help you deal with depression 
    and anxiety.      

    • Psychologists can help you cope with the emotional, psychological, physical, 
     social and practical concerns and adjustments relating to cancer. They can help 
     you cope with the uncertainty, fears and worries that may accompany life with 
     cancer, help you expand your coping strategies, and deal with depression and  
     anxiety.They provide psychotherapy.
     
    • Social Workers  help people with cancer and their families manage and cope 
       with the day to day challenges of living with cancer. They provide counselling, 
       education, information, and advocacy. They can also help you connect with 
       health care, government, and community resources. 

    • Spiritual Care Providers
      Chaplains provide spiritual and emotional support to patients and families of any 
      ethnic or religious background, as well as those who do not identify with a    
      religious practice.  

Radiation therapists
deliver the radiation according to each patient's treatment 
plan. The radiation therapist plays an important role in educating patients on the 
possible side effects from radiation and provides advice on how to minimize 
them.