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HM_StJoBurbank_Summer21_final

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Health Matters: Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center | 5 Kinder and Gentler Cancer Treatment Mind, body and spirit are integral parts of healing at the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center. L eslie Mulvey was shocked when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. "No one in my family has had cancer, and I just didn't think I would ever get cancer," says the 59-year- old interior designer and house stager. "But I was diagnosed last May just after everything shut down." Mulvey lives in Toluca Lake with her husband and 19-year-old son. Of her experience with diagnosis and treatment, Mulvey says that everything went very fast. "There are lots of downsides of COVID, but there are some upsides—I was able to get in for a biopsy at the Disney Family Cancer Center the day after the doctors saw something suspicious on my ultrasound," she says. Mulvey had a course of chemotherapy, then a unilateral mastectomy, and she is now undergoing radiation treatment for cancer found in one of her lymph nodes. She is experiencing firsthand the exceptional care she had always heard about at the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. THE ROY AND PATRICIA FAMILY CANCER CENTER APPROACH The doctors at the center don't just treat cancer; they treat the whole person. It is a strong and abiding philosophy. And, as Raul R. Mena, MD, medical director of the center and medical director of research at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, says, "that should be the case for not just cancer but any chronic illness—diabetes, birth defects, heart disease. We always have to keep in mind the goal is to help a patient with his or her environment and coping mechanisms." Dr. Mena explains, "When we started planning the center, we decided that we were going to always take into consideration a person's quality of life and their family during treatment." In cancer, he says, a cure isn't always possible. "Some are cured, some improve, and for some we have to really concentrate on the patient's quality of life, as well as their family 's quality of life." That is true for Mulvey. "I have a really good support system with friends and family," she says. "The people at the Disney Center also feel like family. From the people who take my temperature to the oncologist to the infusion therapist, everyone is so caring. It is also wonderful for me that the center is about five to ten minutes away— almost in my backyard." EVOLVING WAYS TO PREVENT AND TREAT CANCER "Oncology has changed quite a bit in the last few years," says Dr. Mena. "We have come a long way from just removing a lump and giving people chemotherapy. Now we have moved into finding out what makes a cancer unique." By doing this, he says, doctors are able to treat the cancer more effectively and with less toxicity, which allows the patient to lead a longer, fuller life. "We can identify more precisely what kind of cancer a person has, where it is and what makes the cancer different from others, and we know better how to treat it with either chemotherapy infusions or a pill for targeted treatment or immunotherapy. It is very exciting how treatment has dramatically changed." These new treatments can be less depleting than older ones. However, says Dr. Mena, "We use nutritional services to help a person maintain muscle mass while they are being treated. And we also have psychological services." "This integrative approach that looks at the quality of life, the longest survival and the best psychosocial outcome is really important. It does take a village—not just doctors, but physical therapists, nutritionists, geneticists, imaging technicians and many, many more." When talking about cancer, it is always important to talk about prevention. "Of course, one of the most important things is smoking cessation," says Dr. Mena. "And there are mammograms, colonoscopies, CT scans of the chest for smokers and skin checks for skin cancer." The other important change that Dr. Mena points to is the field of genetics. "We can test people to see what kind of cancer they may be predisposed to and use targeted approaches to predict and prevent it," he says. MIND, BODY AND SPIRIT "We concentrate on how we can maintain a level of function, and we do that by looking at the psychology and the spirituality of a person as well as the medical aspects," Dr. Mena says. Not only are all the medical professionals in one place at the center; there are a myriad of services integral in treating the "whole person." The nurse navigator program is very important. "These navigators help the patient get the support and resources they need every step of the way," says Dr. Mena. "My nurse navigator was right there with me from the time I got my biopsy, hands-on," says Mulvey. "She was actually the person who stopped the bleeding afterward. I call her my nurse angel. She gave me a lot of great information and stressed the fact that everyone's body is different. That really helped. I had a fairly easy time with chemo at first and didn't get a lot of the negative side effects that I had heard about. And then I had other issues that I didn't know about." But Mulvey has availed herself of many of the resources at the center to ease the effects of treatment. The entire second floor of the center offers many supportive services; among them are massage, acupuncture and physical therapy. "The Disney Family Cancer Center's Integrative Medicine program offers patients complimentary therapies to cope with the symptoms and side effects of cancer treatments. Mind and body practices are important in managing stress and depression during and after treatment," says Danielle Cooper, director of the center. "Additionally, our 'Thrivorship Program' is specially designed to assist cancer patients, survivors and companions with the physical, mental and emotional support as well as nourishment during their cancer care and survivorship." "I have had a massage, physical therapy [to help with mobility in her arm], and last week I met with a nutritionist who I will meet with again. And I will probably go to acupuncture as well. And when I do my physical therapy for my arm, I look out at the Zen garden," says Mulvey, who says that she tries to stay positive in the midst of treatment. "What makes this place a little different than

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