Supportive Care Services
The Value of Supportive Care
Cancer affects more than just a person’s body. Your work and family life, plans for the future, even your general outlook on life may change after a cancer diagnosis. That’s why the Overlake Cancer Center provides a full range of support services to help you heal and move forward with your life.
Better outcomes are a continuing trend that Overlake is proud to be a part of. According to a recent report from the National Cancer Institute, between the years 2014 and 2018, death rates declined for 11 of the 19 most common cancers among men and 14 of the 20 most common cancers among women.
Treatment and support are two key elements of better outcomes, and the Overlake Cancer Center is here to provide not only the best care, but also the compassionate support to help you overcome the challenges that come with a cancer diagnosis.
Our specially trained staff include:
- Oncology social workers collaborate with patients and families to help orient them to oncology services, address potential barriers to care, provide psychosocial support and ensure that health literacy are integrated across the continuum of care.
- Genetic counselors to help you understand and reduce the risk of that cancer affecting you or your relatives.
- Nutritionists to help you counter the effects of medication or other treatments with healthy food options
- Massage therapists to help you feel better in your body while undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Speech therapists who can teach you ways to communicate if your throat or vocal cords have been affected by cancer or its treatment
- Physical and occupational therapists who address physical impairments related to treatment and help you regain the ability to work or exercise; and,
- Spiritual counselors who will provide guidance and support when needed
- Palliative care providers who can help you manage symptoms and improve communication and coordination with all your healthcare providers during treatment and recovery.
Your patient navigator is always available to help connect you with the services you may need. For more information, please call the Overlake Cancer Center at (425) 635-3400.
Overlake Cancer Center’s social work team thrives to provide individualized, culturally appropriate care for oncology patients throughout the disease continuum. Through the cancer care continuum, Oncology Social Workers address psychosocial stressors as patients evolve with their treatment and provide education to patients regarding channels to access appropriate resources.
Oncology Social Workers function as patient advocates and meets with patients to assess psychosocial, social, financial and advanced care planning that may interfere with a patient’s treatment plan and adversely affect treatment outcomes and/or the patients’ treatment goals.
For example, if you are experiencing financial challenges, an Oncology Social Worker can assist with exploring available resources to alleviate the financial burden of medical expenses. If you are experiencing difficulty coping with your diagnosis, an Oncology Social Worker can share resources to build a safety net of support such as referrals for psychotherapy, support groups, educational workshops and/or peer-peer support.
Somewhere between 5% and 10% of cancers are hereditary, which means they can be passed from generation to generation through genetic mutations. The goal of genetic counseling is to figure out if a cancer in your family is hereditary, and to reduce the risk of that cancer affecting you or your relatives.
Genetic counseling could be useful to you if:
- You have been diagnosed with cancer and want to know if it could affect blood relatives like your siblings, children and grandchildren.
- Several people in your family have had the same kind of cancer and you want to know if could affect you or your relatives.
At Overlake Cancer Center, our team includes a board-certified genetic counselor who has special expertise in cancer genetics. At your first genetic counseling appointment, they will ask you questions about your medical history and cancer in your family. This will help them evaluate whether the cancer in your family could be hereditary. From there, they will go over the pros and cons of genetic testing, and help you decide if it’s right for you.
If you pursue genetic testing, a lab will analyze a small blood or saliva sample to look for genetic mutations that could increase the risk of certain cancers. If your results indicate a potentially hereditary cancer, your doctors – and/or your family members’ doctors – could take steps to reduce cancer risk. These could include things like more frequent screening tests to detect cancer early, or preventive surgery.
If you have cancer now, genetic testing results can sometimes help doctors match you with a treatment that targets your specific cancer.
The cost of genetic tests has declined significantly and many are covered by insurance. The genetic counselor will help you decide which genetic tests make the most medical and financial sense. Health insurance typically covers the genetic counseling consultation, and often requires it prior to covering testing. Coverage can vary by insurance company or policy.
At Overlake, we guide you through this process with compassion and care. We know this process can make you feel anxious and scared. We take time to understand your concerns, answer all your questions and explain your results in ways that are easy to understand, so you can make the best possible decisions for you and your family.
For more information about genetic counseling at Overlake, please call us at (425) 635-3400.
Medical Nutrition Therapy
Good nutrition is a fundamental part of dealing with cancer. It can support both renewed health and continued healing. The Overlake Cancer Center has medical nutritionists with the experience and knowledge needed to create the best individualized nutrition plans for our patients.
Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) can address the side effects of chemo and radiation, helping patients heal faster and feel better after cancer treatments. MNT starts with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) who conducts a comprehensive nutrition assessment, taking into account a patient’s lifestyle and the severity of his or her illness. The dietitian then develops a nutritional diagnosis, followed by goals and a care plan. Specific nutrition interventions may be incorporated to manage or treat problems. In addition, the RDN will provide support for a patient’s behavioral and lifestyle changes, and will monitor and evaluate progress as well as any health or medication changes.
Registered dietitians are one part of the multi-disciplinary team that provides the best in supportive care to our patients. Nutritional care at the Overlake Cancer Center is always provided under the supervision of a medical doctor.
To learn more about our medical nutrition program for cancer patients, call the Overlake Cancer Center at (425) 635-3400.
Overlake Cancer Center offers therapeutic massage by a skilled professional that is part of a comprehensive program to provide our patients with the best possible care. Studies have shown that massage therapy can help reduce the severity of pain caused by cancer and can even help with treatment side effects, such as peripheral neuropathy, nausea and vomiting.
In addition, a therapeutic massage can improve the flow of lymphatic fluid, which helps the body fight infection. It can also help increase the circulation of blood to move nutrients throughout the body. Improving the flow of lymphatic fluid and circulation of the blood can help your body heal faster after cancer and its treatment.
Cancer is often accompanied by sleep difficulties, and massage therapy can help by putting the body into a relaxed state that alleviates stress and promotes restful sleep.
A therapeutic massage can also include passive-resistive stretching techniques to help patients regain strength and more safely return to physical activities they enjoyed prior to their cancer diagnosis.
With a doctor’s approval, patients who have had surgery can request massages that help with the healing of scars.
While today’s cancer treatments have proven highly effective, they can also be physically and emotionally taxing. Every massage provided by the Overlake Cancer Center will be tailored to help patients with their particular physical and emotional needs.
Physical therapy provided by the Overlake Cancer Center is a one-on-one program for improving a patient’s ability to move and function. With regular physical therapy, people undergoing cancer treatment can feel they are more in control and can make better choices about their physical activity.
The physical therapy specialists at the Overlake Cancer Center design personalized exercise and treatment plans. A patient’s doctor and care team oversees physical therapy treatments and monitors progress. These care plans can help patients:
- Improve movement and balance.
- Decrease fatigue.
- Improve the ability to perform activities of daily living.
- Use assistive devices, such as a cane or walker.
- Relieve/manage pain.
- Regain abilities that were compromised by illness.
- Help with cancer-related lymphedema management.
One added benefit of physical therapy is that it can improve a patient’s ability to get back to the things in life they most enjoy. It can also assist healing by improving their sense of purpose and well-being.
To learn more about physical therapy at the Overlake Cancer Center, call us at (425) 635-3400.
Treatments for certain cancers that involve then head and neck can cause changes in speech and swallowing abilities. Eating and communication are important for maintaining quality of life.Recent research has shown that maintaining active swallowing activities before and during treatment will help in recovery. Our speech-language pathology team, under the direction of a patient’s doctor, can provide one-on-one treatment and care planning for:
- Improving and maintaining swallowing function.
- Speech and voice activities.
- Cognitive communication skills.
To learn more about speech therapy at Overlake Cancer Center, call us at (425) 688-5900.
Spiritual concerns often arise after a cancer diagnosis and during treatment whether or not religious faith is part of a person’s life. Our care partner, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, provides Spiritual Health services and resources for patients at the Overlake Cancer Center.
The Spiritual Health team is available for a variety of needs, whether it’s being a compassionate listener or sounding board for difficult decisions, a comfort source during grief, a liaison to the local faith community, or a provider of religious rituals.
Spiritual care providers help patients feel calmer using a variety of methods, such as music, prayer, inspirational and religious writings, and meditation. They can provide emotional support to patients and families throughout their entire care journey.
Cancer can turn a patient’s life upside down. Spiritual care can help restore a sense of balance. For more information on the Spiritual Health program, call the Overlake Cancer Center at (425) 635-3400.
Studies have shown that people living with cancer can live longer and better with the support of experts in palliative care – addressing the stress and symptoms of illness. Palliative care consultants help people living with cancer and their loved ones feel better, plan, and explore what is possible in treatment and beyond. Consultations often begin with an overview of how your condition impacts you as a unique individual: your day-to-day function, activities, goals and relationships.
In clinic or in the hospital, specially trained palliative care consultants work in partnership with you and other members of your treatment team such as oncologists, social workers, chaplains, pharmacists and nurses to create a “roadmap” for living as well as you can. This support can make a great difference in the experience of cancer treatment and in the outcomes that matter to you.
The Overlake palliative care team:
- Adds expertise in managing symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, nausea, constipation, fatigue, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping.
- Combines information and emotional support for you and your family so that you can identify your goals and match your treatment to those goals.
- Coordinates care and treatment with your doctors, at any stage of your illness.
- Identifies support services to help you on your journey.
Our goal is to help you to live comfortably and to provide the best quality of life for you and your family. Palliative care can be provided at the same time as curative treatments, and can be accessed by asking a physician, such as an oncologist, radiation oncologist, or primary care doctor, to refer you.
For more information, call the Overlake Cancer Center at (425) 635-3400.