2007-01-31 / Health

The First Step To Cancer Survival

Medical experts are working on ways to help people with cancer live longer. That's important because every day, 3,835 are told by their doctors that they have cancer. Ten million Americans are cancer survivors, and they stay strong with hope. Unfortunately, a majority of newly diagnosed survivors are not prepared with the skills needed to fight this terrible disease. The first step to cancer survival is educating yourself through credible and accurate resources.

Years ago a group of survivors, oncology nurses and oncology social workers recognized a need for a resource that would teach cancer survivors the skills needed to better meet and understand the challenges of their illness. That's why the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS), the Oncology Nursing Society, the Association of Oncology Social Work and later the National Association of Social Workers partnered to develop the Cancer Survival Toolbox®.

The first six modules of the Toolbox address the topics of communicating, finding information, making decisions, solving problems, negotiating and standing up for your rights. Over the years additional programs were added to help older persons, caregivers, those facing financial troubles and those who have finished treatment. To date, NCCS has distributed hundreds of thousands of Toolboxes to cancer survivors, their families and caregivers.

"We developed the Cancer Survival Toolbox to help arm people with the skills and information they need to fight for better cancer care and navigate the complex health care system," said Ellen Stovall, president of NCCS. Stovall is a 34-year cancer survivor.

While created primarily for people who have been recently diagnosed with cancer, the Toolbox can help anyone who is facing hard decisions and changes in life due to cancer. Family members and caregivers may also find the Toolbox helpful.

To order the Toolbox in English, Spanish or Chinese (transcript only), call the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship at (877) TOOLS-4-U. You can also read, listen or download MP3 files of the modules online at www.cancersurvivaltoolbox. org.

Survivors should arm themselves with the skills and information they need to fight for better cancer care.

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