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Beyond the Medical: Other Dimensions of Care

Network - Fall 2008

By Sandi Stromberg

No matter how cancer enters your life — as a patient or a caregiver — once it arrives, your ability to function in the same way as before is compromised. While medical attention is crucial, cancer can impact other aspects of your life.

These can be emotional, psychological, social, spiritual, legal and practical. And they can be pertinent whether you are recently diagnosed, in the midst of treatment, a survivor or a caregiver. Whatever your stage, you need accurate and timely information, education about your care and its long-term implications, and continuity of care to alleviate these impacts.

To address these issues, health care professionals at M. D. Anderson offer the following clinics and services. While you may not live in Houston and have ready access to the onsite offerings, some information is available online and listed below. There also may be similar services in your own community or area.

  • Anxiety, panic, depression, sexual dysfunction and substance dependence: Psychiatrists and psychiatric advanced practice nurses provide counseling for individuals, caregivers, couples and children.
  • Chemobrain: Neuropsychologists provide assessment and intervention strategies for cognitive and neurobehavioral symptoms.
  • Children, teens and young adults: The Child, Adolescent and Young Adult Psychosocial Outreach Program provides preparation and assistance with medical tests and procedures, psychological counseling and cognitive testing, K-12 education programs, career and vocational counseling, and Kim’s Place for patients and visitors 15-25 years old.
  • Complementary therapies: The Place … of wellness serves patients, families and caregivers through more than 150 programs, including acupuncture and massage, expressive therapies (art, music), movement therapies (yoga, tai chi, Pilates), relaxation techniques (guided imagery, meditation) and nutrition lectures.
  • Counseling and community resources: The Department of Social Work provides short-term individual and family counseling, support groups and guidance with advance directives (that include the medical power of attorney and the living will).
  • Education: The Learning Center is a free consumer health library with the latest information on cancer care, support, prevention and general health and wellness.
  • Fatigue: Recognizing that this is the most common side effect of cancer and cancer treatments, M. D. Anderson’s Cancer-Related Fatigue Clinic helps patients in the comprehensive evaluation of their fatigue, whether they have evidence of cancer or not.
  • Kids Need Information, Too: KNIT helps patients talk to their children after a cancer diagnosis or change in treatment.
  • Pain: The Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine Center serves patients through comprehensive pain assessment. It also offers treatment for acute and chronic pain related to cancer and has multidisciplinary pain treatment for both inpatients and outpatients.
  • Patient-to-patient and caregiver-to-caregiver support: The Anderson Network, a program of Volunteer Services, serves pediatric and adult patients, survivors and caregivers through 15 programs, including telephone and online support, an annual patient/caregiver conference and this Network newsletter.
  • Prevention, screening and smoking cessation: The Cancer Prevention Center offers comprehensive and site-specific cancer screening, risk assessment and risk reduction, as well as genetic testing. A program offers counseling and tobacco-treatment medication to eligible M. D. Anderson patients.
  • Rehabilitation: Rehabilitative Services provides therapy to help increase physical abilities and regain independence in everyday activities. It also offers comfort and support through WAGS, an animal-assisted therapy program. 
  • Side effects management: The Supportive Care Center works to help patients and families attain the best possible quality of life by assessing and managing cancer-related physical and emotional symptoms, as well as preventing or minimizing losses of physical functioning.
  • Sleep problems: The Sleep Center offers services for patients with the following symptoms: sleep apnea, snoring, restless leg syndrome, insomnia or excessive daytime sleepiness and behavioral sleep disorder.
  • Spiritual support: The Department of Chaplaincy and Pastoral Education offers spiritual support to all patients and family members for all faith traditions.

The following online services are available:

Anderson Network

  • Cancer Survivor Message Board — online message board offering a place to ask questions, talk or just listen.
  • Warmnet — online subscription listserv for cancer patients/survivors.
  • Ask the Expert — online forum featuring timely cancer topics and the chance to get your questions answered by M. D. Anderson cancer experts.

Spiritual Pathways — The Department of Chaplaincy and Pastoral Education’s blog.

The Learning Center — A program of the Patient Education Office, TLC offers free online help. Questions and comments can be sent to and are responded to within two business days. Its Internet site also offers Pathfinders, a listing of reputable sources for information on various cancers and cancer-related subjects.

Complementary/Integrative Medicine Education Resources — An online offering by the Integrative Medicine Program to help patients and physicians decide how best to integrate such therapies into their care.

For more information about these services, call askMDAnderson toll free at 877-632-6789.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center