Battling Cancer – Arm Yourself With Hope


Cancer—even the sound of the word can put people into panic mode. No one ever expects it to happen. Hearing the news of that diagnosis can be depressing and cause much fear and anxiety. On the bright side, cancer survival rates have increased dramatically over the past 40 years.

Fortunately, Columbus is a town where a cancer diagnosis can be the start of a positive journey. Because there are so many healthy treatment options and several well-known cancer centers in the city, the good news is that no one needs to take that journey alone. Patients have their teams of doctors, family and friends as support, but there is also a community in Columbus whose sole purpose is to get people through the struggle ahead in a positive way. Furthermore, Columbus excels in traditional and nontraditional treatments, so there is an option to meet everyone’s needs.

The James

Cancer takes on many different forms. Like the individuals it affects, each diagnosis is different and should be treated as such. Doctors at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center (OSUCCC) Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute believe there is no routine cancer.

“At the James, we focus on super specialized care,” says Michael A. Caligiuri, M.D., of The Ohio State University College of Medicine. There are over 200 known forms of cancer, and The James has a team of specialists for 150 of those different types. Each team includes doctors, nurses and research partners. The doctors at The James do research, teach medical students, and treat patients only in their specific field; they super-specialize in one type of cancer. According to Dr. Caligiuri, “Our goal is to succeed in personalized care all the way through a patient’s journey with cancer.” Studies have found that mortality from cancer is 20% lower when patients are treated at a cancer hospital. This is attributed to the focus on one goal – cancer treatment, research, and prevention.

Consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top hospitals in the nation for cancer care, The James is the 3rd largest cancer hospital in the United States. It was just named an ‘Exceptional Cancer Center’ after receiving a perfect score from the National Cancer Institute. “This is the first time in history that a university cancer hospital has ever received a perfect score,” says Dr. Caligiuri.

The vision of the doctors at The James is to create a cancerfree world, one person and one discovery at a time. The James’ survivor program incorporates nutrition, exercise, emotional counseling and follow-up screening. “There are over 13,000 patients who have been cured from cancer at The James,” adds Dr. Caligiuri, “along with the tens of thousands living successfully with cancer due to our support programs.”

To further provide support and peace of mind to patients, The James has created a benefit called CancerBridge. This benefit is available to companies at a very low cost, and gives employees and their immediate family members the ability to connect with cancer specialists from anywhere in the world. No matter where people are receiving care or if they need direction on where to get started, the specialists at The James help to guide them and set up their journeys to successful treatment and support.

Cancer Support Community

The Cancer Support Community is the largest professionally- led nonprofit network of cancer support worldwide. It is dedicated to ensuring that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and supported by their communities. A positive mindset can significantly influence treatment and change the way patients feel about cancer. “I watch people walk in our doors nervous, scared, overwhelmed and hopeless, wondering how they are going to handle life with this new diagnosis. After attending a support group or one of our other programs, faces are brighter, fear starts to be replaced by confidence, hopelessness turns to hopefulness,” says Angie Santangelo, Clinical Program Director of the Cancer Support Community.

“Research has found that by participating in Cancer Support Community programs, people experience an increased quality of life, feel less alone, and improve their ability to cope with stress and the impact of the disease,” says Bev Soult, President & CEO of Cancer Support Community Columbus. “Here at CSC, you find you are not alone, regain a sense of control and learn there is always hope,” adds Bev.

The Cancer Support Community empowers its patients with lessons on healthy living. This includes yoga, meditation, wellness and nutrition. “Our patients love the Cooking with Wellness Program,” says Thomas Stevenson, Chef Vet CEO. “Our recipes use what is classified as high protein, low fat and low or no sugar, and they are reviewed by our Giant Eagle dietician to ensure that we are on track. We also select the recipes and guide our patients through hands-on preparations with recipes that can be made at home without substantial equipment or time,” adds Stevenson. “Proper nutrition is crucial for cancer patients because the illness and its treatments can affect the way the body tolerates foods and utilizes nutrients,” says Karli Lutton, RD, LD, Regional Dietitian Specialist at Giant Eagle. At CSC, the main objective is to treat the whole person, not just the cancer.

Pain Relief

Pain is also a factor in the cancer journey. “Studies show that 85% of a cancer patient’s pain comes from the actual cancer, and about 15% of the pain comes from the treatments,” says Dr. Gladstone C. McDowell II, M.D., Medical Director of Integrated Pain Solutions. Pain specialists must wear many hats when evaluating a patient. They become detectives, cheerleaders, ministers and doctors. A comprehensive pain assessment must be done in order to determine an individual treatment approach. Studies show that good pain management improves a patient’s immune functions. “Pain control increases a person’s will to fight and get better,” adds Dr. McDowell. Proper pain control can also help reduce stress in the other ways individuals are dealing with cancer. “Pain control ultimately saves the patient money and time by eliminating the need for hospitalization due to pain,” continues Dr. Mc- Dowell. The focus is to improve the quality of patients’ lives while they are fighting cancer.

The Zangmeister Cancer Center

Located just east of Columbus, adjacent to John Glenn Columbus International Airport, is The Zangmeister Cancer Center. As a division of Ohio Oncology & Hematology, LLC, the Zangmeister Cancer Center offers a full spectrum of outpatient services with a welcoming setting that emphasizes patient comfort and convenience. Along with more traditional treatment plans, they also offer holistic physical and emotional support in a soothing environment, complete with water fountains, aquariums, plenty of natural light and a meditation room for patient relaxation.

“Many support services to assist patients, families and caregivers are offered at the center through the Mount Carmel Foundation – Haven of Hope, including exercise classes, educational programs, support groups, and complimentary therapies,” adds Mary Jane Lane, Executive Assistant. Dealing with a cancer diagnosis is a lot to handle. Many things can help to comfort and relieve further physical and emotional discomfort during this battle.

Nature as the Nurturer

In a society that is often fast paced and focused on scientific advancement, many are now searching for a more holistic approach to improve health, turning back to the way their ancestors used the land to fight off disease. An ongoing study of black raspberry concentrated compound has proven it to be highly effective in reducing and inhibiting cancer cell growth when applied topically. Dr. Gary Stoner, PHD, professor emeritus at The Ohio State University, and founder of this study, shared that identifying a combination of compounds has proven, in countless studies and clinical trials, to have tremendous cancer-treating potential. This option has been studied in the oral cavity, esophagus, colon and skin.

“The two main effects of the black raspberry compound are inhibiting cancer cell growth and acting as an anti-inflammatory,” says Dr. Stoner. The compound slowed the growth rate of tumors and reduced new blood vessel formation that contributes to the growth of cancer cells. His work has led to an even bigger impact on the use of food elements in cancer research. “If we are able to give a natural product, we can affect cancer pathways without toxicity,” adds Dr. Stoner.

Because people can be emotionally distraught when learning about their cancer, it is important to communicate information carefully. “It can be tricky to write materials related to cancer in a way that is acceptable for every person. Each person has a unique experience and perspective about his or her diagnosis. Generally, writing in a way that simplifies the information and provides credible resources for more information is what we focus on because people are often overwhelmed with information or misled by what they find searching on the internet,” states Julia Riga of inVentiv Health.

Being touched by cancer is a journey that requires fortitude. Having good mental health is a core element to ensuring individuals are better equipped to handle what the experience brings. Cancer is scary, but our local resources provide options that allow you to arm yourself with hope.

Tags from the story

Leave a Reply