December 2015 Vol 6, NO 6

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Letters from Lillie

Preparing for the New Year

Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, ONN-CG 

Hello to all of our Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+) members. Happy holidays! We have another terrific issue of the Journal of Oncology Navigation & Survivorship for your review. Below are some highlights of what you will find inside.

Long-term survivorship care is something patients receiving cancer treatment are anxious to finally achieve—but do you think they want to transition back to their primary care providers, or stay with the oncology specialists who cared for them? You’ve probably guessed it…stay. A research study was conducted in London, England, that looked at the perception of patients with breast cancer on this transitional point in their care, and learned that patients want to remain where they are. Unfortunately, this isn’t realistic to do, especially here in the United States. This is great information, however, that will perhaps get your wheels turning to develop ways to help patients completing acute treatment feel comfortable when going back with their primary care providers. We all hope, of course, that they will actually never need us again.

In an editorial, Penny Widmaier, RN, MSN, discusses supporting our patients as they find their new normal, now that their cancer treatment is complete. Cancer, no doubt, is a life-altering experience. Our job as navigators is to help patients embrace their life that was saved, provide them with the resources they need to regain their physical and emotional strength, and set them on a path of physical and emotional wellness.

Our 2015 Oncology Nurse Excellence (ONE) award winner was Barbara Antolino-Smith; join me in congratulating her. She was presented with the ONE award at our Sixth Annual AONN+ Conference in Atlanta, GA, which was held in October 2015. Read her story, and find out why she became our chosen awardee this year.

And, speaking of our Sixth Annual AONN+ Conference, this year we had a special track specifically for lay navigators. Although it would have been wonderful to have everyone in one room together, we needed to break our educational content into tracks based on the needs of our members and other navigation attendees, so patient navigators had their own special room, and a marathon day of learning and networking. Highlights included addressing disparities among some of our populations of patients with cancer, and learning about the newly developed core competencies for lay navigators.

Other highlights from the conference included information that focused on the growing importance of applying genetics and genomics into standard cancer care; we will see more and more use of this type of biologic information that will directly influence treatment planning decisions. One barrier, however, is the lag time it can take to get results back.

The new Commission on Cancer (CoC) Standards launched in the beginning of 2015 are on virtually every navigator and cancer center administrator’s mind. We had the good fortune of having Aaron D. Bleznak, MD, MBA, FACS, a surveyor for the American College of Surgeons who is well-versed on the old and new standards, provide us with a wealth of information about how to ensure we meet the standards as designed. It is great to get this type of information right from the horse’s mouth. One of the new standards the CoC has implemented is tied to measuring a patient’s distress level at pivotal points in time during their care; the timing was perfect for a dedicated lecture on screening and managing psychological distress.

And finally, cancer rehabilitation remains underused when it shouldn’t be. We need to help ensure that our patients receive referrals to cancer rehabilitation when they need it, which can commonly be before their treatment even begins, and is known as cancer prehabilitation.

With kind regards,
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS
Editor-in-Chief
University Distinguished Service Associate Professor of Breast Cancer, Depts of Surgery and Oncology; Administrative Director, The Johns Hopkins Breast Center; Director, Cancer Survivorship Programs at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins; Associate Professor, JHU School of Medicine, Depts of Surgery, Oncology & Gynecology and Obstetrics; Associate Professor, JHU School of Nursing, Baltimore, MD
E-mail: shockli@jhmi.edu

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