Webcast aimed at helping cancer patients, caregivers

Published 3:24 pm Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Shelby County cancer patients and their caregivers face unique challenges in coping with complex medical treatments and everyday life, in addition to making difficult end-of-life decisions.

However, Lance Lee, chaplain and volunteer coordinator at Family Care Hospice of Alabaster, said what many cancer patients and their caregivers don’t realize is help is available to them.

That’s why Family Care Hospice is sponsoring a webcast of a national teleconference hosted by the Hospice Foundation of America, he said.

The event is Wednesday, March 24, from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Westwood Baptist Church in Alabaster. Registration and a light lunch begin at 11:45 a.m. The event is free to the public, though seating will be limited to 50 people. Call Lee at 663-5614 to reserve seating.

The teleconference will address care options related to cancer diagnoses as well as loss and grief reactions for patients, families and professional caregivers. The teleconference will also examine psychosocial aspects of cancer, pain management and ethical issues related to the disease.

“Cancer patients and caregivers will have an opportunity to learn about help available to them and that many of the issues they struggle with are common issues,” Lee said. “They will see how others have worked to solve those issues.”

The webcast will originate from Washington, D.C., and will feature a panel of national experts.

At the webcast site in Alabaster, a local panel of experts will be available to answer questions, Lee said. Those experts will include Mandy Cannabis, nurse practitioner at Shelby Cancer Care Center; Amanda Redman, Veterans Administration palliative care social worker; Robby Owens, Shelby County district attorney; and Jane Teters, massage therapist and Hospice volunteer.

“Those attending can ask questions of our local panel immediately following the webcast. Hopefully there will be some resource sharing and information about support groups and other types of caregiver and patient assistance,” he said.

Lee said the webcast would benefit anyone in the community interested in learning more about cancer and end-of-life options.

“I would hope some patients attend, too, so they can learn what resources are out there for them so they can make better, more informed decisions,” he said.

The webcast will also provide continuing education hours for health care professionals.

“The Hospice Foundation sponsors the teleconferences on a variety of issues. I think this one is going to be one that most people in the community would have an interest in. We all have been affected in some way by cancer,” Lee said.