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Identifying – and helping – cancer patients in distress

This summer Gerard Blum was diagnosed with cancer at the base of his tongue. The experience, he says, made him aware of just how important it is to speak up – and reach out.

“I realized theIdentify need for honesty, and I recognized you need to ask for help,” says Gerard. That help is now being enhanced through the use of a screening for distress tool and its questionnaire. Cancer patient navigators in seven of the nine health districts are using the tool, as well as the Head and Neck and Thoracic cancer clinics in Halifax. Several satellite clinics are also using the new tool, and the program is continuing to roll out across the province.

“Our vision is to improve care for cancer patients,” says Dr. Janice Howes, psychologist and Clinical Leader, Psychosocial Oncology for Cancer Care Nova Scotia. “If we ask people about their concerns, we will have a better understanding of their level of distress. Then we can help them cope and deal with their concerns.”

L-R: Karen Woodworth,  Head and Neck Oncology Case Manager, Capital Health; Gerard Blum, patient

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