At the Cancer Support Community (CSC), there are many ways we bring our supportive and empowering programming to people affected by cancer. Anyone can call our Cancer Support Helpline to talk with licensed mental health professionals or resource specialists about their experiences with cancer. We have 39 freestanding affiliates and 120 satellite locations where anyone can walk in to participate in a community of support.
We also have eight health care partners. These are treatment facilities where dedicated support staff also provide services to people affected by cancer in their community. This new model provides a streamlined approach, so that patients and their loved ones can understand psychosocial support as an integral part of the treatment process.
In January, with the generous financial support of the Barbara Bradley Baekgaard Family Foundation, Northwest Medical Specialties became a CSC health care partner. With six locations in Washington State, Northwest Medical Specialties is committed to providing world-class, holistic care to everyone who walks through their doors.
The CSC Program Director at Northwest Medical Specialties is a social worker named Abra Kelson. We asked Abra a few questions about her experiences launching the CSC at Northwest Medical Specialties and how her programming will impact patients and caregivers in her community:
CSC:Can you talk about one of the events or programs you’ve planned, and how you hope it will empower your patients?
Abra: In March, we held the Frankly Speaking About Cancer event, "What Do I Tell the Kids?". This was our first event where we focused our outreach efforts to the community, as well as within our clinics. Much to our surprise many of the attendees came from the community. We even had a mother and her two children from Portland, OR, who heard about our event through family that live locally.
The event was well attended and the audience was eager to share and discuss their own experiences with difficult conversations with their little ones. During conversation at the end of the workshop and throughout the evaluation forms, a lot of positive feedback was given regarding the event and topic at hand
Through this event we were hoping to provide a safe, non-judgmental environment where people could learn and troubleshoot their specific difficulties talking with their kids about cancer, empowering patients and those affected by cancer to feel confident in these difficult conversations with their loved ones. Based on the feedback, we can confidently say that we achieved this.
We are excited to host another workshop on this topic in the future.
CSC: What do you find to be the most helpful resource that CSC brings to Northwest Medical Specialties?
Abra: I have taken advantage of a number of the educational and resource materials through CSC and display them as I am able. I am also the social worker at my clinic, so I am able to hand out the resources during visits with patients. I have also referred a number of patients to the CSC Helpline and have received great feedback.
CSC: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start providing psychosocial support services at their health care facility?
Abra: Network, network, network! Get your co-workers and community as excited about the programs as you are! The more people you have invested the better!
You can learn more about Northwest Medical Specialties on their website by clicking here. You can learn more about the innovative partnership that made CSC at Northwest Medical Specialties possible by clicking here.