An estimated 15.5 million Americans are cancer survivors, but they haven’t beaten the disease alone.
It takes a concerted effort to survive cancer, and the University of Illinois Cancer Center’s Survivorship Program is providing patients with the resources they need to help them continue living a full life.
“Survivorship begins at the time of cancer diagnosis,” said Dr. Susan Hong, director of the Cancer Center’s Adult Cancer Survivorship Program. “Just because the cancer has been cured doesn’t mean people are left in perfect health. There’s a lot of fallout, not just with patients but for family members, friends, and others.”
The survivorship clinic is housed within Mile Square Health Center, 1220 S. Wood St., a federally qualified health center. Any adult diagnosed with cancer with their primary care physician at Mile Square or who are treated at University of Illinois Health Science System are eligible to receive care in the survivorship program. The aim of the survivorship clinic is to coordinate care between the cancer specialist and primary care physician to ensure that all aspects of a cancer survivor’s health needs are met.
The survivorship program contains numerous components:
- Screening for recurrent and new cancers
- Assessing for the medical and psychosocial late effects, as well as the intervention, for the consequences of cancer and its treatment
- Coordination of care between specialists and primary care providers to ensure all aspects of the survivor’s health needs are met
Navigating life can be difficult for cancer survivors, as they face numerous challenges. Depression; stress; pain; limitations in activity; and poor general health are just some of the hurdles. Survivorship care is needed because traditional medical care for cancer survivors has been fragmented and poorly coordinated with both survivors and health care providers confused about who is delivering which aspects of care, Hong said.
Several other initiatives led by the UI Cancer Center Adult Survivorship Team are designed to prevent cancer occurrence. The Family History Initiative at the Evelyn Goldberg Mammography Center is one such pilot program.
Women undergoing screening mammograms are asked to complete information about their family history on a HIPAA-secure tablet-based web program called CancerIQ. This tool uses existing family history screening tools evaluated by the United States Preventative Services Task Force to determine if a woman qualifies to speak to a genetic counselor. “Identifying high risk individuals is one way we can tailor screening and prevention services appropriately,” Hong said.
The UI Health Cancer Center has partnered with Wellness House to provide programs and classes to help meet the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of cancer patients and their families.
Programs offered at UI Health include:
- Information & Education — Providing helpful information while dealing with cancer, from updates on the latest treatments and help with insurance, to learning how to manage side effects.
- Exercise & Nutrition — Classes for maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle, including nutrition, exercise sessions, and activities that help calm the body and mind.
- Stress Management — Classes and groups that help to lessen the stress caused by cancer, including meditation and self-expression through art and music.
- Child & Family Programs — Family programs help children and families learn about cancer and how to express their feelings in a safe and welcoming place.
- Support Groups & Counseling — Weekly and monthly groups offer a chance to share stories and experiences with others affected by cancer.
Choose the program that is right for you!
All Wellness House programs are FREE and for those affected by cancer. (All classes taught in English except the Mat Yoga class on Wednesdays in Spanish.)
For more information or to register for programs visit wellnesshouse.org/UIHealth
Cancer patients and their families living on Chicago’s West and South Sides now have access to free supportive therapy and survivorship programs close to home, thanks to a collaboration between Wellness House and the University of Illinois Cancer Center.
The programs, which are led by Wellness House staff and offered for the first time at a federally qualified clinic in Chicago, include exercise and nutrition classes, stress management sessions, and support group and counseling opportunities.
“Cancer survivorship begins at the time of diagnosis, and these programs are meant to be a place where patients and their families can learn and gather information and participate in activities that are beneficial to their emotional and physical health,” said Dr. Susan Hong, director of the Cancer survivorship program at the University of Illinois Cancer Center.
Previously, Wellness House services were primarily provided to cancer patients and their families at its Home of Hope in suburban Hinsdale, Illinois. For the last two years, the nonprofit has been expanding services to partner locations.
Its latest partnership will feature more than 40 programs offered at two UI Health locations each month — the Cancer Clinic at the Outpatient Care Center (1801 W. Taylor St.) and Mile Square Health Center Main location (1220 S. Wood St.), a federally qualified health center (FQHC) — making it easier for historically marginalized communities near UI Health to access these services.
“We are excited to work with the UI Cancer Center to bring our evidence-based programs directly to communities that may have otherwise struggled to access the type of psychosocial and supportive programs we offer,” said Lisa Kolavennu, senior director of programs at Wellness House.
Example programs include Exercise for Staying Well; Cooking for Wellness; Tai Chi Fundamentals; Expressive Arts; and networking groups for men, women, and young adults.
“Incorporating the supportive services of the Wellness House into our survivorship program is a win for our patients and communities,” said Hong, who is also a visiting associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Hong works to counsel patients — those in active treatment and those who are in remission — on the many physical and mental health issues affected by a cancer diagnosis in the UI Cancer Center’s survivorship clinic, which is the first in the U.S. to be embedded within an FQHC.
While this makes the center’s survivorship clinic unique, Dr. Robert Winn, who oversees both the Cancer Center and UI Health’s network of FQHCs, believes the program should stand as an example to other centers in the U.S.
“We know that marginalized communities in our country face a higher burden of disease, but when you look at the data for cancer, the numbers are not only alarming, they are, frankly, a wakeup call we cannot ignore,” said Winn, associate vice chancellor for community-based practice at UIC and director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center. “Community clinics are where our most vulnerable neighbors get their care, and we can’t limit that care to only the basics when nearly 40 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. Access to these services is a barrier for many community residents and all cancer centers should be thinking about partnerships that include the clinics that serve patients where they live to better support the communities’ needs.”
“Comprehensive cancer care must include survivorship,” Hong said. “Cancer and cancer treatment have many lifelong consequences, and it only makes sense to start addressing potential risks holistically early in the cancer experience. From increased preventive care to guard against additional health conditions to increased support for managing psychosocial matters relating to finances, survivorship matters.”
The University of Illinois Cancer Center will also be collecting data on the programs offered in collaboration with Wellness House and will use the information for future research regarding the impact of these programs on cancer outcomes.
In addition to offering Wellness House programs to UI Health patients, the survivorship clinic also welcomes people receiving care from nearby hospitals and clinics.
Patients and their families who are interested in participating in the programs, some of which are walk-in and some of which require advanced registration, can find information available on line.
Cancer Survivorship Program
Survivorship begins at the time of cancer diagnosis. Our goal is to ensure your whole health is considered by working to minimize the negative consequences of cancer and cancer treatments.
Surviving cancer takes a determined effort, but you don’t have to do it alone. The UI Health Survivorship Program provides patients with the resources they need to help them continue living a full life during and after their cancer care.
What Is Survivorship?
According the National Cancer Institute:
“An individual is considered a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis, through the balance of his or her life. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also impacted by the survivorship experience and are therefore included in this definition.”
Often when people speak of survivorship care, they are referring to the time after completion of active cancer treatment. While this is the most common time for cancer patients to engage with cancer survivorship programs, at UI Health we want to let people know it is never too early to start Survivorship Care.
Who can receive Survivorship care?
Anyone with a cancer diagnosis – whether just diagnosed, recently completed treatment, on active maintenance therapy, or someone who completed treatment years ago can receive survivorship care.
What is our goal?
Our goal is to coordinate care between the cancer specialist and primary care physician to ensure that all aspects of a cancer survivor’s health are being met. Since everyone is different, we personalize care to meet each person’s unique needs.
Why do I or my loved one need Survivorship Care?
Patients who go through cancer treatment face various challenges that can make their life difficult. One major difficulty that patients may face is fragmentation of care, which refers to a lack of care and resource coordination that can negatively impact a patient’s quality, cost, and outcomes.
Some other challenges include:
- Changes in energy level
- Decrease in physical function
- Uncertainty about future health risks
- Financial stress
- Treatment-related side effects that can impact overall health and quality of life
The Survivorship Clinic offers:
- Screening for recurrent and new cancers
In addition to your regular health maintenance we want to make sure you are getting any additional screening needed as a result of your cancer and cancer treatments
- Monitoring for late effects of cancer and cancer treatments including medical and psychosocial effects
- Interventions for the consequences of cancer and its treatment
Whether it’s through medication, specialty referral, therapy, or other supportive care services
- Coordinating care between your cancer physicians and primary care provider
To help ensure every part of your healthcare needs are being met.
And if you don’t have a primary care physician, we will help you find one within the UI Health network.
Susan Hong, MD, MPH
Associate Professor of Medicine
Meet Your Physician
Dr. Susan Hong is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Surgery who completed her residency training at the University of Chicago. She has more than 20 years of experience in clinical healthcare.
Dr. Hong understands the challenges of prioritizing one’s health, while pursuing a busy schedule of career and personal life. This is why she is dedicated to providing convenient and comprehensive personalized healthcare that meets the needs and demanding schedules of Chicagoland professionals.
Not a cancer patient through UI Health?
Any adult diagnosed with cancer regardless of where they received their cancer care can be seen.
To request an appointment call 312.996.2000