Vernon Robl doesn’t want to appear to be telling people what to do. But he does want to at least encourage cancer survivors to participate in an upcoming program at St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center.
The six-week interactive televideo (ITV) program is called “Going Forward: Life After Treatment”; it is designed to improve quality of life for cancer survivors.
The sessions are set for 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, beginning March 4 and ending April 8 in the basement level St. Dominic Room. Susan Krigel, a licensed psychologist with Midwest Cancer Alliance, will lead the program.
Robl has been a prostate cancer survivor since 1997, when he underwent 38 radiation treatments; he attended one of the previous Going Forward programs at St. Rose last spring.
“It really helps you and lets you know there is hope,” said Robl, 85. “And hope is the main thing. I got a lot of comfort from the classes. They talked about emotions, which was good for me.
“Even though I am a long-time survivor, a lot of what they said still made a lot of sense,” the Great Bend man continued. “I can’t tell anyone what to do but I can say this was a good program for me.”
He also noted ITV is a good way to participate. “It was like the presenter was right there in the room with us,” he said.
Robl also is involved in Touched By Cancer, the St. Rose Heartland Cancer Center support group. “I don’t understand why more people don’t get involved,” he commented. “It is good to talk to people in the programs and support group; you realize you are not alone.”
The Midwest Cancer Alliance (MCA), outreach arm of The University of Kansas Cancer Center, sponsors Going Forward.
The first session will be an introduction and topics for the other five gatherings are: exercise and wellness; nutrition; emotional health; treatment after-effects; and social and spiritual support.
Susan Krigel, PhD, co-creator of Going Forward, joins Robl in encouraging survivors to attend.
“This survivorship program has been very popular,” Krigel said. “When their chemotherapy and radiation come to an end, patients no longer feel they have the regular support of their treatment team. In many cases, their level of distress spikes because they don’t have this cocoon of support.
“In addition,” Krigel elaborated, “they may think now that the treatment phase has ended, they should be back to ‘normal.’ But they are surprised when they continue to feel fatigued and experience the after-effects of treatment. They may not have had time to process the emotional aspects involved.”
All these factors, Krigel summarized, may cause multiple concerns that can be addressed in Going Forward.
“During the transition from treatment to survivorship, they can address all their concerns,” Krigel said. “They can learn how to be active survivors by doing what they can to take care of themselves.”
The Going Forward program that begins next month is the third in Great Bend. “St. Rose has been very proactive in using MCA resources to meet patients’ needs,” Krigel said.
Previously, the classes were in the afternoon but MCA responded to patient requests to have them in the evenings this time.
St. Rose is an MCA member, and part of Centura Health, which connects individuals and families across western Kansas and Colorado with more than 6,000 physicians, 15 hospitals, seven senior-living communities, physician practices and clinics, and home-care and hospice services.