Local community members helped present their work on an innovative cancer survivorship program, “iSurvive,” at the North American Primary Care Research Group annual meeting this past month in Cancun, Mexico.
Local community members helped present their work on an innovative cancer survivorship program, “iSurvive,” at the North American Primary Care Research Group annual meeting this past month in Cancun, Mexico. The High Plains Research Network and their Community Advisory Council developed the iSurvive training program with lead researcher Dr. Linda Overholser from the University of Colorado Medical School. Funded by the National Cancer Institute, the iSurvive program provides locally developed resources, training and tools that are delivered on-site to all clinics in eastern Colorado. The program works with local primary care practices to address medical screening and prevention, long-term symptom management, and coordination of ongoing care for cancer survivors and their families. Researchers and health care providers from around the world showed great enthusiasm for the program, which is one of the first in the nation.
A cancer diagnosis changes a person forever. Early detection and improved treatment options are helping people to live longer following a cancer diagnosis. In the last 30 years, the rate of people living for 5 or more years after a cancer diagnosis has improved from 30 percent to 70 percent. Over 6,000 people in eastern Colorado are cancer survivors. People with a history of cancer have basic health care needs that are very similar to everyone else. However, they and their families also have unique medical and mental health needs. Enhanced follow-up and monitoring with their primary care provider, psychological and social support, fatigue, and the nagging worry that the cancer may return are just a few possibilities.
Thankfully, through the iSurvive program and many committed primary care providers, hospitals and local cancer groups, our communities have valuable resources to help people with a cancer history manage these challenges. The iSurvive program provides local on-site training to physicians, nurses and clinic staff. The High Plains Research Network Community Advisory Council also developed a unique cancer survivorship Service Manual that helps patients and their families with long-term home care. Knowledge is power, and the iSurvive Service Manual provides knowledge for cancer survivors. One family doctor who completed the training commented that prior to the program she would make sure her patients had their regular mammograms and screenings, but following the iSurvive program she has deeper conversations with her patients about all the components of cancer survivorship care.
Nearly 40 practices in eastern Colorado are participating in iSurvive, with a goal to provide this program to every community in eastern Colorado. Program results so far show a remarkable increase in knowledge and understanding about the healthcare needs of cancer survivors. Cancer survivors can expect to get high quality, state of the art care from their local, iSurvive-trained practice.
If you or someone you know is a cancer survivor, talk with your local family practice about building a thriving survivorship plan. Work with your trusted health care provider to develop a plan for health maintenance. Every cancer survivor should know they don’t have to face this work alone.