American Cancer Society, established in 1913, is a national community-based organization that is dedicated to fighting and eliminating cancer through prevention, research, education, advocacy, and service. The organization was established by 15 physicians and businessmen, in New York City, under the name American Society for the Control of Cancer. The name was changed to American Cancer Society in 1945, when the society was reorganized to recognize the new era. The symbol is composed of two serpents and a sword of hope which represent the scientific medical focus and the crusading spirit of the movement against cancer.
The society is currently run by volunteers. The number one goal of the organization is to “save lives and create a world with less cancer and more birthdays by helping people stay well, helping people get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back,” (American Cancer Society [ACS], 2013). Over the years, the society has become the “global leader in the fight against cancer,” (ACS, 2013), with close to 12 million survivors in the United States alone. The purpose of this paper is to examine the services as well as health, psychosocial, and educational benefits that the organization provides to their clients and the community.
The paper will also discuss the application of the available services in a healthcare setting during the patient discharge planning process. The services provided by the American Cancer Society are divided into two categories: preventive and supportive. The preventive services offered include: Upstate lung cancer screening program, yearly mammograms starting at age 40, colorectal screenings starting at age 50 and cervical cancer screenings. These are just a few of the many preventive services that the society offers to patients, survivors, and caregivers.
The supportive services include: Patient Navigator Program, Hope lodge or Sarah House, Road to Recovery transportation services, Strive and Thrive: Live strong at the YMCA, and many support groups including the Emotional Support online program. According to M. R (personal communication, March 4, 2013), the goal of these services is to “help cancer patients and survivors improve their quality of life while going thru the cancer journey. ” The programs are free of charge for patients with cancer diagnosis and who are actively enrolled in cancer treatment programs.
One of the most important services provided, by the organization, is the Patient Navigator Program. The program is designed to connect the patient with a person in the society who helps the patient learn about cancer and the treatment options. The navigator also helps with transportation, lodging, insurance and financial needs as well as connecting the patient with appropriate support groups. The navigator also provides emotional support to both the patient and the caregivers.
This support is especially important not only for the patient but more so important for the caregiver because according to Blum and Sherman (2010), “caregivers are suffering. They provide extraordinary uncompensated care that is physically, emotionally, socially and financially demanding and results in the neglect of their own needs… Stress of the caregiver can lead to significant physiologic changes and medical illnesses. ” The cancer journey places an overwhelming burden on everyone involved; therefore, the more support the better.
The Road to Recovery transportation service is another benefit available for the patient. It is a volunteer program that provides cancer patients with rides to and from medical treatment facilities. According to ACS internet website one of the biggest challenges that a lot of the cancer patients face is getting to and from the cancer treatments so the ACS provides this service free of charge to active treatment cancer patients. Treatment is an extremely important component of cancer management as it helps to increase the chance of survival.
This is why the Road to Recovery program is an important component of the ACS services and benefits. The ACS also provides the Hope Lodge: giving hope a home benefit. The lodge gives patients and caregivers a free place to stay since getting the best possible cancer treatment sometimes requires traveling away from home. According to M. R (personal communication, March 4, 2013), “Hope Lodge allows patient and their caregivers focus on getting well and it is a place to share a meal, join different patient centered activities and unwind. The service is free of charge but the requirement is that the patient must live at least 40 minutes away from the cancer treatment center. It is a home away from home. The ACS also provides certain psychosocial benefits for their patients through support groups, counseling, and exercise programs. The programs are an important component in helping cancer patients and survivors to achieve the optimum quality of life. The ACS has partnered up with the Y in a program called Strive and Thrive: Live strong at the YMCA.
This is a health and well-being program for cancer patients and survivors which help to achieve the goal of holistic health. The focus of this exercise program is to “reduce fatigue, improve muscle strength and energy levels, as well as to increase flexibility, endurance, confidence, self-esteem, mood and overall well-being. The program also helps to prevent cancer recurrence while increasing survival rate, “(ACS, 2013). ACS also partners up with many different support groups which help patients through their cancer journey.
The groups include: Reach to Recovery, Man to Man, Look Good…Feel Better, Wigs – Free or Reduced, health education, and information/referral services. Reach to Recovery is a breast cancer one-on-one peer support program. The program helps to connect women with volunteers who help the patient cope with the diagnosis of breast cancer and treatment. The Man to Man program is a program for man concerned about prostate cancer. The program is led by prostate cancer survivors.
These two groups help their patients through all of the stages of the cancer journey, from prevention thru diagnosis to recovery and beyond. The Look Good…Feel Better is a free program which helps women, in an active cancer treatment, to deal with appearance related to the effects of cancer treatment. This program along with the Wigs – Free or Reduced program also help patients cope with hair loss, an inevitable side effect of cancer treatment, by offering wigs, scarves, and other accessories free of charge or at reduced price.
These two programs provide a huge psychosocial benefit for their patient. The goal of all the benefits and services mentioned is to help clients successfully deal with this life altering event and aid in the ability to maintain healthy state of being throughout their journey. Education, a major component of cancer journey, is offered through support groups. These groups allow patient to become more knowledgeable about their illness and gives them someone to talk to and ask question other than a family member or caregiver.
The support groups also help to deal with anxiety and depression and teach the patient how to establish a better relationship with the healthcare team and eliminate any barriers that may come along the road of cancer treatment. The health education programs provide additional information on cancer prevention as well as focus on promoting awareness of the importance of early cancer screenings and diagnosis. The programs also provide the clients with opportunity for companionship and the opportunity to discuss issues openly which in turn add to the clients ability to make adequate decisions.
The support groups help he client maintain optimum level of psychosocial health. However, there is one supportive measure that the ACS does not currently offer to their patients until the patient is facing end of life stages. The measure is palliative care. The hospice services are offered to cancer patients but often “too little too late,” according to Bakitas, Bishop, Caron and Stephens (2010, p. 267). The goal of the palliative care is to “prevent and relieve suffering and to support the best possible quality of life for the patient and the family regardless of the stage of the disease or need for other therapies,” (Bakitas, Bishop, Caron & Stephens, 2010).
The conclusion is that these services should be offered in early stages of cancer as well because the service could greatly enhance the quality of life of the cancer patient. The services discussed above are effective and important component of health promotion for cancer patient and should be utilized in discharge planning. The valuable resources can really help a patient, especially in the early stages of cancer, because they can connect the patient to a navigator who can answer questions, address any concerns and help access all the available resources.
Today`s healthcare systems encompasses many different patients with many different healthcare needs and one of the major nursing responsibilities is making sure that the needs of their clients are addressed. Another nursing responsibility is to help minimize the burden that patients may be faced with by connecting them to appropriate available resources. Patients with cancer face many issues throughout their journey and the American Cancer Society provides effective patient care and tailors that care towards each individual’s needs. The society is a great place to start upon being diagnosed with cancer and throughout the cancer journey.