Lourdes was a 35 year old single Mom with two children under the age of 10 when she was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) cancer. It turned her world upside down. Her first procedure, a lumpectomy, was not conclusive so she had a second surgery in which they found a tumor in addition to the DCIS. Both her mother and her sister died of breast cancer, but Lourdes had tested negative for the BRACA 1 and 2 gene.
She was overwhelmed and confused about what to do next – several surgical options were presented, but she was worried because she was the sole breadwinner for her family. On top of that, English was her second language. She was afraid she would not be understood by her medical team. Just reviewing the different surgical options in terms of her cancer diagnosis and possible outcome was paralyzing.
At the recommendation of a Gilda’s Club NYC Patient Navigator at her hospital, Lourdes sought out Gilda’s Club for the personal support she knew she needed. During her meeting with a Gilda’s Club mental health professional, she was told about a new program – Open to Options (O2O).
“I was getting tongue-tied but my counselor understood what I was trying to say. She helped me word the questions in a way that my oncologist could understand what I wanted to know.” – Lourdes
O2O helps cancer patients prepare for their next oncologist’s appointment where important decisions will be made about their treatment. In a one-on-one meeting with a trained counselor, they work together to develop a list of questions for their oncologist to help guide the discussion and list concerns for an upcoming treatment decision. The goal is to ensure all patient questions get answered and all concerns are addressed so a well-informed decision can be made with confidence.
Lourdes was grateful for the help she received from her O2O counselor. “I was getting tongue-tied but my counselor understood what I was trying to say. She helped me word the questions in a way that my oncologist could understand what I wanted to know.”
O2O participants report feeling less anxious about their consultation, more confident walking in with a list of questions and getting the answers they need to make important decisions about their treatment. Their doctors report their patients walk in more prepared. In the end, patient and doctor are working together as a team.
“As an O2O Counselor, I believe this approach empowers cancer patients at a time when they feel the most vulnerable, especially the newly diagnosed who don’t know what questions to ask and how to speak with their doctors”, states Haydee Bulos. “The responses I hear after completing an O2O meeting are that they feel prepared for their next medical appointment and feel that they were not alone.”
O2O is one of the many valuable cancer resources offered at Gilda’s Club NYC along with support groups, educational lectures and healthy lifestyle workshops – all 100% free of charge.
With your support we can reach more New Yorkers living with cancer, especially newly diagnosed patients when they need it the most – when they find out they have cancer. Imagine if at that moment, our mental health professional could introduce them to the cancer support resources available at Gilda’s Club including our newest addition, O2O.
Cancer can be isolating and overwhelming, but having access to resources that can help you with your cancer journey is invaluable. Your donation today will help empower cancer patients and provide them with a special community that truly understands what it means to be living with cancer.
At Gilda’s Club, we believe no one should face cancer alone. Join us in making a difference for someone who is living with cancer by making a donation today. Thank you for your support.