New 2019 Cancer Survey

First Survivor Views Survey Highlights Barriers to Addressing Side Effects of Cancer Treatment

Washington, D.C. – Barriers to accessing appropriate therapies to address the physical and psychological side effects of cancer treatment continue to persist for patients and survivors, according to survey results from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

Survivor Views, an initiative launched by ACS CAN in January, established a national cohort of cancer patients and survivors to complete a series of six individual surveys focusing on a range of public policy issues important to the cancer patient and survivor community. The results of the first survey, which are being released today, focus on patient experiences treating the symptoms and side effects of their cancer and access to supportive or palliative care services.

The survey found patients and survivors experience a wide range of symptoms and side effects as a result of their cancer care. While effective treatments exist for several of these physical and psychological side effects, the survey results indicate many patients and survivors are not accessing them for a variety of reasons.  Fifty-five percent of respondents reported physical limitations or difficulties completing tasks as a result of their cancer care, but only 26 percent reported being referred to physical, occupational or speech therapy by their health care provider. Similarly, 51% of patients reported anxiety or depression as a result of their cancer while only 10% reported being referred to a mental health provider for additional therapy.

Many survivors also reported adverse symptoms or pain well after their active treatment concluded. Of survey respondents who reported pain or other symptoms during treatment, two-thirds noted the symptoms resulting from their cancer or treatment continued well after active treatment concluded.

“Too many cancer patients and survivors are not receiving the appropriate treatments and therapies that would alleviate the side effects of their cancer care,” said Lisa Lacasse, ACS CAN president. “At a time when our health care system is facing incredible pressure to evolve, it’s clear that our approach to health care must become more holistic and provide patients with better coordinated options to alleviate the physical and psychological side effects of a cancer diagnosis. This coordinated, patient-centered care must continue well into survivorship as patients continue to live with the lasting side effects of their cancer and its treatment.”

Barriers to accessing prescription drug treatments to alleviate pain that often accompanies cancer treatment were also apparent in the survey results. Over half of cancer patients or survivors participating in the survey who have been prescribed opioids in the last 12 months voiced concern about their future ability to access appropriate pain medications. More than 40 percent of these respondents had already experienced barriers to accessing pain treatment.  Respondents reported these barriers had direct adverse impacts on their lives, including inability to work or participate in family or social events, setbacks in their ongoing cancer treatment, and the need for additional emergency care to treat uncontrolled pain.

Survivor Views is providing ACS CAN with timely, firsthand information that will drive our advocacy efforts forward, giving cancer survivors a voice in the issues directly affecting their lives,” Lacasse said. “The release of the first survey results focusing on patient experiences with treating pain and other side effects associated with a cancer diagnosis provides valuable insight into the shortcomings patients face in trying to manage their symptoms on a day-to-day basis and highlights that symptoms can extend months and years after treatment concludes.”

I found these survey results to be right on. Too many cancer survivors continue to deal with pain and side effects years after treatment. Now there’s proof! Thank you ACA for doing this enlightening survey!

Never Give Up!!!


It’s My Birthday!

Hi Wellness Readers:

Today is my birthday and it’s -10 degrees outside. My birthday lunch plans were rescheduled due to the extreme cold. Does this bother me? No, because I’ve learned that birthdays come and go but my life experiences will last forever. For instance . . .

Twelve years ago I was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer and given a six percent chance of survival. As dreadful as that sounds, I survived. The past 12 years have been a blessing to me and I will never take these years of life for granted. I’ve learned more about myself and this world than I ever dreamed. My greatest blessing was that I had the resilience to survive and see my wedding day! I am grateful for this miracle.

Yes, my wedding day is a miracle. I lived long enough to watch as our Minnesota governor sign the “Love is the law” legislation on May 14, 2013, making marriage legal for same sex partners. My wife, Rita, was at my side while I went through surgeries after surgeries, chemotherapy, two near death experiences — all to heal from cancer. And she is still by my side as life entertains and baffles us.

I’m grateful for this birthday today to remind me of all the people and things I hold dear. I’m a fortunate woman with a blistering past, but today I am whole and healed. Thank you Divine Spirit for all the good people in my life and the immense love that I feel every day.

I didn’t give up because I believe in love, truth, healing, and hope.

NEVER GIVE UP! EVER!!!

Writing Your Way Through Trauma Workshop

If you’ve experienced trauma and want a positive way to express your feelings, please join us for our “Writing Through Trauma Workshop.” You’ll learn how trauma can compromise your health and wellness, and learn ways to heal. Workshop 1.0 is for beginners who are exploring healing through writing. Workshop 2.0 is for writers who have taken Workshop 1.0 and want to pursue other creative forms.

These writing workshops are held at a safe and comfortable location. Please review the attached poster for details.

I hope you’ll join us.

Alexis Acker-Halbur
Workshop Co-Facilitator

New Program Coming Soon!

One of the first lessons we learn as children is to tell the truth. For children who are physically, emotionally, and psychologically abused and traumatized, this lesson becomes a dire challenge. Frequently threatened and told to lie these children — now adults — grow further and further from the truth.

That is until now. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing with you a new program to help resolve trauma issues to achieve a healthy mind, body, and spirit. If trauma is making you sick, check out the T.R.U.T.H Program and find out how you can live a life of possibilities and promise.

T.R.U.T.H Program =
The Road to Unresolved Trauma Healing

Coming soon . . .

 

Finding an Answer to Cancer

This past  Saturday, August 19th I had the pleasure of volunteering for the Forest Lake Relay For Life event. My wife Rita and I have been Relay volunteers for 10 years since my diagnosis of Stage IV colon cancer — twice! This is an event near and dear to my heart because my mother, many relatives, and friends have fought cancer battles — many have died and many more are still alive today. There’s still no cure(s) for the over 200 types of cancer. Jaelynn Parenteau (first photo) was our guest survivor speaker. She’s 17 years old and has been on a cancer journey for one year now. It breaks my heart that someone so young has to deal with cancer. She’s a super courageous survivor and I was honored to introduce her at the Survivor Celebration (second photo).

Our five teams raised $56,000 this year!

Typical me, I tried to find a survivor poem to share at the Survivor Celebration, but unable to find one, I wrote a poem instead. I’d like to share it with you and all the cancer survivors who are faced with cancer.

I Survived

Cancer came at me like a monster, and I shook with anger and fear.
I didn’t know where I was headed, but I knew my death was near.

I prayed to the Heavens to heal me, and the sky sent me a beam.
I knew I’d strive to walk again, and reach my cherished dream.

But the journey was difficult, and took away my breath.
I was taught how to live, but knew nothing of fighting death.

My body was weak, my mind a mess, my spirit took a dive.
You helped me confront my fears, and made me feel alive.

I’m proud to be called a survivor, and glad the worst is gone.
Healing is a miracle, like the sunset and early dawn.

Say a prayer for those who walk this day, arm-in-arm with cancer.
Show us how to fight for life, and help us find the answer.

Alexis Acker-Halbur
August 16, 2017
__________________________________________

If you are fighting a cancer battle, please remember that you have the strength and courage to fight this monster. It’s difficult to want to keep living after all the surgeries, radiation treatments, and chemo sessions, but your desire to live is stronger than cancer. My motto is “Never Give Up” and I believe this should be every cancer survivor’s motto as well.

Let me know what you think about my poem.

Alex Acker-Halbur