Throughout the month of February, we’re making an extra effort to ensure parents, caregivers and healthcare workers know just how much their care means to the childhood cancer community. The Survivorship Program at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital cares for kids and young adults to give them the support they need after treatment ends. We spoke to Jessica Busse, LCSW, Oncology Social Worker to learn more. Thank you, Jessica and the Survivorship Team, for bridging the gap from childhood cancer patient to survivor and beyond!
Q. Who can be part of the Survivorship Program, and what are the goals of the program?
A. The Doernbecher Survivorship Program is designed for childhood, adolescent, and young adult cancer and bone marrow transplant survivors and their families, who have completed therapy two or more years ago. During their visit, each survivor meets with our team of experts in survivorship care, including an oncology medical provider, neuropsychologist, nurse, social worker, teacher, and dental resident. There is no age limit in our clinic, so survivors continue to come see us as adults. You do not have to have been treated at Doernbecher to come to our clinic.
The overall goal of survivorship care is to empower survivors to live their best lives possible. We teach healthy lifestyle habits, provide social, emotional, and school supports, and give up-to-date information about future health screenings based on the treatment they received. Every diagnosis and treatment experience is different, and every person is different, so our survivorship visits are specific to each person and takes their entire treatment into account for recommendations.
Q. What is your role at the Survivorship Program? What drew you to it, and what’s your favorite thing about your work?
A. As the program’s social worker, I support survivors and their families with the social, emotional, and practical components of being a survivor. This looks different for everyone, but it may be helping them find a therapist in their community, connecting them with organizations where they can meet other survivors, providing information about navigating health insurance and managing their own healthcare as a young adult, assisting with basic or emergency needs, or simply listening as they share about their treatment and survivorship journey. I was drawn to this role because, in my personal life, I have experienced firsthand the ways that cancer can leave a lasting impact on survivors and families long after treatment ends. I feel deeply honored to be able to support survivors and families as they navigate life after cancer.
My favorite thing about my work is getting to meet amazing survivors every week! They all have such unique experiences and perspectives, and I am constantly learning from them about how I can better support future survivors.
Q. What advice do you have for those who are finishing pediatric cancer treatment, and looking to the future?
A. The end of treatment can be a time of mixed emotions for many survivors and their families. The Doernbecher Survivorship Program has been working on more ways to support people once treatment ends, and before they are eligible to come to survivorship clinic. We refer to this 0-2 year period after treatment ends as “Early Survivorship”. On our website there is information about live and recorded “Early Survivorship” webinars that we offer every few months, and other resources that may be helpful during this time: https://www.ohsu.edu/doernbecher/doernbecher-cancer-survivorship-program
Q. Anything you want parents and caregivers of survivors to know?
A. You are not alone! Our team is available at any time. If you have questions, feel free to call us 503-494-0200, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will make sure that you are directed to the correct resource.
Early Survivorship free webinar series flyer: click here
Survivorship FAQs: click here
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