Support groups to be available for patients at all stages of cancer

HERSHEY — Life after cancer is what every patient hopes for.

But, as cancer survivorship researcher Dr. Elana Farace explains, it’s not an easy transition to make.

When the new Cancer Institute at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center opens its doors this spring, patients will be able to benefit from support group interaction with other patients at all stages of cancer.

“You walk into waiting rooms and everyone’s talking, exchanging numbers,” Farace said.

The new building will have a healing garden where patients, families and employees can get away from the stress of cancer and cancer treatment.

And support groups to help patients make tough decisions, like choosing genetic testing for their families or what kind of care they will want at the end of their life.

Being prepared, “can make a huge impact on the quality of life and the end of life,” Farace said.

She is also part of research that focuses on patient physician interaction “so questions get asked and questions get answered,” as well as research on returning to life and going back to work, coping with relationship changes and mental health issues.

Farace said feedback on the support is a big part of the plan.

And for patients who live too far to travel just for support group meetings, phone conferences will be arranged, she said.

Sara Ganim can be reached at 231-4616.