Message from the Director: Reflecting on the past, looking to the future
By B. Mark Evers, MD, UK Markey Cancer Center Director
Kentucky is first in the nation in overall cancer mortality rate. Here at Markey, our five-year goal is to decrease Kentucky’s cancer deaths by 50%. Toward that goal, Markey is treating over 3,000 new cancer cases each year. And each patient we treat is a celebration of survivorship.
Survivorship, during or after treatment, is a badge of honor. It can also be a heavy burden adjusting to physical and emotional changes that come with treatments, side effects and others changes in life after a diagnosis. Markey’s comprehensive care includes an intense focus on the issues of survivorship.
The Kentucky Lung Cancer Survivorship Program is made possible through a $7 million grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation (partnership between UK, U of L, and the Lung Cance Alliance). This grant contains a specific component for Survivorship Care that aims to develop and evaluate a lung cancer survivorship care program for individuals diagnosed with lung cancer and their caregivers.
Our Long-Term Survivorship Clinic provides a comprehensive care plan, and includes a summary of the survivor’s medical history. The plan also offers an opportunity to connect with valuable resources such as an American Cancer Society navigator smoking cessation assistance and our Psych Onc services to discuss financial concerns, dietary needs and other issues. This clinic is critical to Markey’s ability to fully, completely, care for our patients.
A new and increasingly popular activity for survivors and their loved ones is the Expressions of Courage Survivor Arts Celebration. Held in June, National Cancer Survivorship Month, this event showcases the visual, literary and performing arts expression of all Markey patients and also provides an opportunity for them to reconnect with their community of caregivers.
The value of art in health care is evident in Markey’s radiation mask workshops. These free workshops give survivors of head and neck cancers an opportunity to turn what may represent an uncomfortable experience into an empowering work of art Survivorship is a priority at Markey. It’s one way we make a difference in the lives of the Commonwealth, Central Appalachia and the region.