· Many organizations and hospitals address rehabilitation needs of cancer patients, but there is a dearth in Bengaluru of structured, easily accessible and patient friendly programs
BENGALURU / October 15, 2019: Lack of adequate information and rehabilitation facilities are the primary contributors to poor quality of life of breast cancer patients. Yet, hospitals and oncologists in Bengaluru are challenged to develop programs that support the growing number of cancer patients during treatment and follow-up. This was said by doctors from Prameya Health, the only institution in the city specializing in holistic supportive care for cancer patients. On the occasion of the ongoing breast cancer awareness month, they highlighted the need to focus on the unmet supportive care needs of breast cancer patients in Bengaluru.
Said breast surgeon Dr. Sandhya Ravi, Founder & MD of Prameya Health: “Many individuals and families continue to face complicated care issues resulting from cancer diagnosis long after completion of treatment. Many organizations and hospitals try to address their rehabilitation needs, but there is a dearth of structured, easily accessible and patient-friendly programs. Also, it is difficult for oncologists in a hospital setting to provide long-term supportive care even with the existence of a rehabilitation team. Considering the rising population of cancer patients in Karnataka, we need dedicated, stand-alone institutions specializing in preventive and supportive care.”
Prameya Health experts noted that with the progress in early detection of breast cancer and increasingly effective treatment, more and more women are now living beyond the disease. The whole point of early detection and effective treatment is to provide long and good quality of life. Support and education are crucial parts of care and these need to be provided on an ongoing basis to patients. India is also seeing the prevalence of cancer in younger age groups as compared with the global average.
Supportive care refers to services that help cancer patients, their caregivers, and their families to cope with the disease and its treatment from the time of diagnosis, through treatment and beyond, with the goal to improve quality of life. It helps patients embark on a journey of wellness, which is a complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease. The goal is to treat the symptoms in a comprehensive manner, and address the psychological, social and spiritual effects the diagnosis has on the patients and those who are caring for them.
Added Dr. Sandhya Ravi: “It takes time to sort through and process the emotional turmoil that comes with the diagnosis of breast cancer. It is important for patients to voice their fears, worries and uncertainties with an empathetic group. They need to know that they are not alone and that other women with the same condition have similar feelings. The goal of a good supportive care program is to restore the confidence in a woman that has been shattered by the diagnosis of cancer and help her reclaim control of her life. It helps to draw her into a community to share, connect and recover. There is evidence from several Quality of Life studies done in India and from Western literature about the benefits of supportive care. The testimonials of the patients who have participated in such programs is proof of this.”
According to experts from Prameya Health, a good supportive program covers areas such as physical needs, educational needs, social support, psychological support, spiritual support, and also rehabilitation support or end-of-life and bereavement care. It also doubles up as place to meet new people and be a part of a fast-growing support community.
Said Dr. Sandhya Ravi: “It is often seen that medical and social support for patients of breast cancer diminishes over the years and they have to manage their own care and fend for themselves. Empowering patients by helping them to use their own strengths and resources through supportive care programs, which are preventive, personalized and participatory, will go a long way to address this need. These will provide a wellness model for cancer survivors too.”
Prameya Health’s FENS Program
At Prameya Health, these issues are addressed with the help of its FENS program, denoting the Functional, Emotional, Nutritional and Spiritual Dimensions of care. While physical aspects include factors such as body image, functional disability, fatigue and fertility, the emotional aspects involve the fear of recurrence and progression of cancer, anxiety, depression and sexual issues. The social aspects include various taboos and cultural issues regarding victims of cancer.
Functional Dimension: The functional dimensions deal with General Fitness and workshops in Yoga, Dance, Music, Arts and Crafts. Special sessions help with management of Lymph-edema.
Emotional Dimension: Addresses the emotional requirements of a patient (anxiety, depression, stress) through motivation and counselling, meditation and relaxation practices. A psychosocial rehabilitation alongside social integration programs is emphasized upon.
Nutritional Dimension: This dimension deals with the nutritional requirements and various practical questions regarding diet before, during and after treatment.
Spiritual Dimension: In the spiritual dimension, the patient is encouraged to re-establish an inner connect with oneself to accelerate the process of healing.
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