Health-care consulting for families facing a cancer diagnosis

Cancer Champions offers compassionate guidance and clarity to you and your loved ones throughout your cancer journey.

As your trusted guide, we empower you and your family with knowledge and confidence to make informed decisions about your cancer care and regain your peace of mind.
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With Cancer Champions,
You Don’t Have to Face Cancer Alone

If you or a loved one is feeling overwhelmed and anxious by a cancer diagnosis, compassionate support is available. Cancer Champions can ease your fear and uncertainty by helping you and your loved ones understand your specific disease, collect personalized healthcare information, evaluate your treatment options, and make informed decisions. 

Combining oncology knowledge with genuine compassion makes Cancer Champions a trusted advisor that complements your cancer care team and provides peace of mind throughout your cancer journey. Call Dana to learn more about how she can help to create a personalized roadmap to guide you and your family.

CONSULTATION

When you are presented with a difficult diagnosis, most likely you don’t know what you don’t know yet. Because I have professional healthcare experience and have personally been through several cancer journeys, I compassionately work with you to create a personalized roadmap to help you and your family navigate the journey. I also provide resources and informationto to help you take the first steps.

EDUCATION

When you are making critical decisions — you need access to the most relevant information, tailored to your unique situation. With both professional and personal experience researching treatment options and supportive care solutions for individuals facing cancer, I am uniquely qualified to offer families the types of information and resources they will need to make better informed decisions about their care.

FACILITATION

Upon hearing a cancer diagnosis, emotions often take control and inhibit decision making. Anxiety and fear may stifle important conversations that family members and loved ones need to have with the individual fighting cancer. I can help to facilitate these important but difficult conversations, with compassion and a kind and open heart.

From our inbox:

When my father was diagnosed with cancer I was in shock — and living 600 miles away. I knew he had been dealing with prostate cancer several years earlier, but I had no idea his cancer had returned and was so advanced.  

Dana was a true blessing. She went to see my father and assessed the situation quickly. Her knowledge of cancer was critical. She listened to the doctors and asked the right questions. She was far better equipped than us to discern what the doctors were saying — and counsel us appropriately. She monitored my father during his stay in the hospital and helped us navigate the transition to hospice. Dana was compassionate and a true professional all the way through to the end.

The nicest thing about working with Dana is her compassion. She has experienced the loss of her own parent to cancer and knows the confusion, uncertainty, and heartbreak involved. She is able to professionally communicate with the medical staff and gather the correct information — and translate it to us in an understandable way. Dana cried with us, prayed with us and was not afraid to be honest. I respected that.

— L.P., Atlanta, Ga

From our inbox:

As someone diagnosed with a rare, aggressive cancer just 5 months ago, I was overwhelmed and confused. I wasn’t sure whether my doctors were doing what I needed. I asked Dana to review my case and it was the best thing I’ve done since diagnosis. I’m so grateful I made the decision to work with Dana. For a very reasonable fee, she actually did more than expected. She is smart, organized, prompt, and compassionate. I am now much more confident regarding treatment options and what my doctors should be doing. My head has stopped spinning and I can sleep at night. Worth every penny.

— Lori R

From our inbox:

“It’s difficult to express in words the importance of an advocate when faced with a life-changing scenario like cancer. Dana was amazing, providing incredible counsel and guidance that was critical in the early days of our diagnosis. I could not imagine going through this again without the caring, loving expertise that Dana Hutson brought to our family. She is an angel.”

-Eric

From our inbox:

“5 stars is just not enough for Dana Hutson. Dana has been a godsend to our family.  We lost my elderly father with Dementia after a cascade of events resulting from an ER visit.   My family has been struggling to bring closure to this situation.

I met Dana after a presentation she gave . During the presentation she gave an example that exactly described the experience we had at the hospital with my father. We hired Dana to go back and research the entire 30 day hospital experience and assist us in understanding what happened. Dana spent numerous hours reviewing hundreds of pages of notes from 4 different hospitals.

Our experience is far too common across the country. Unfortunately, we didn’t meet Dana until after my father’s death. If we had had Dana’s guidance, our family’s  outcome may have been radically different. I highly recommend seeking Dana’s assistance in advocating and supporting you during any type of medical situation. We will forever be grateful to Dana for bringing closure to our family.”

-Maureen

From our inbox:

“Money can’t pay you back for the wisdom you provided my family.”

From our inbox:

“You have been an angel that came into our lives…we could not be on this journey without you…”

From our inbox:

” working with Dana has been an absolute blessing for my family. She was able to quickly assess my mom’s situation and immediately offer solutions that made a difference. Her knowledge and tireless legwork is a gamechanger for families trying to negotiate the healthcare system.”

-Sam

7 Questions to Ask Your Oncologist

It’s helpful to have a list of questions to ask your doctor when you are presented with a cancer diagnosis. Here are 7 questions to ask at your next doctor’s appointment.

Recent articles

Lessons I Did Not Want To Learn: When Grief is the Teacher

These past 12 months have been difficult.

We have experienced loss both professionally and personally, and we find ourselves facing this new year with a heavy heart. 

Unfortunately, I know that there are many of you who have not yet realized the outcomes that you had hoped for. If I may, I’d like to share a few insights from my personal journey with grief in the hopes they might help someone.

First, let’s define it. What is grief?

Grief is the normal response to loss. However, what some might not realize is that loss is not always associated with the death of a loved one. For example, many people grieve the loss of the way things used to be. 

Regarding cancer, the transition from ending treatment to extended or long-term survival is often filled with “new normals.” For example, this might include long-term treatment side effects. Furthermore, many women who have survived breast cancer often suffer a deep sense of loss due to the sexual side effects of their treatments. Oftentimes, this type of grief is disenfranchised by their partners and health care providers. 

Therefore, it is important to recognize whether what you are feeling is transitional grief or grief spurred by a change of what once was. 

In other words, grief is our emotional response to loss, and mourning is the process of adapting after that loss. 

I lost both of my parents to cancer within 5 years of one another. Each of their deaths caused me to experience intense feelings of grief, however, I mourned them both differently. 

My father was diagnosed first, as he was incidentally diagnosed in the emergency room.  He chose not to undergo any therapy, as his disease was pretty extensive. He was gone 6 weeks later. 

His death was unexpected and sudden, and it left me feeling numb, angry, and quite frankly, depressed. 

I only just lost my mother last year. In the 4 years since my father’s death, she had been hospitalized for various health events 4 times.  

The fourth time she was admitted was due to a fractured shoulder. During the preoperative workup, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. 

Although a cancer diagnosis was not expected, advocating for my mom within the healthcare system for the previous 4 years prevented me from experiencing the “shock” that had come with Daddy’s diagnosis. Although, it did feel like a cruel pile on.  

At this point in my life, I was already fully engaged in healthcare problem solving, and I had unceremoniously added an oncology consult to the list of things to do. 

Mom opted for treatment, although scheduling was complicated by the rehab for her shoulder.  Eventually, she underwent extensive radiation therapy that was followed by 8 months of chemotherapy.  

We were hopeful that the toll of the treatment on her quality of life would be well worth it. However, like so many other families, her will to fight eventually wore out.  

After learning that her current therapy was no longer keeping cancer at bay, Mom opted to discontinue treatment.

After consulting with her palliative care team, she chose to initiate the support of hospice within her home, and our family was able to enjoy 4 of the sweetest months with her. 

As I write this, it has been almost exactly a year since Mom died. I have felt a range of emotions, some of which still continue to surprise me. 

As a student in a class that I never wanted to take, I have learned first-hand how hard it is to lose a loved one. 

I can only hope that my insights offer some sort of help or comfort to those who also find themselves facing the unthinkable. 

Here’s what I learned:

  • I had to face the reality of my parents’ deaths, and I feel the pain of that loss.
  • I realized that my grief response would be completely unique to me, and I had to resist the urge to compare my response to that of other family members. 
  • My unique relationship with each of my parents affected my response to each of their deaths, and the difference in those responses was okay. 
  • I had to accept the support of my friends and community. This support was pivotal in helping me adjust to a life without the physical presence of my parents. 
  • My faith gives me the hope to continue, as I believe their physical departure from this earth was not a permanent goodbye, but instead, a see you later.

If you would like to learn more about palliative care, hospice, or get connected with trusted grief consultants/counselors please visit us https://cancer-champions.com/contact/ to schedule a complimentary call. 

 

Looking For A Practical Way To Help Someone With Cancer?

I am regularly inspired by the creative ways communities  come together to offer support of individuals and families facing a disruptive diagnosis like cancer.
There are so many of you out there and  today I’d like you to meet Reagan, an eighth grade student, philanthropist and guest blogger.

 

It wasn’t fair! How could my uncle be perfectly healthy one day and fighting for his life the next? How could he go from running marathons to barely being able to get out of bed? It was quite the concept for my seven year-old brain to wrap around. I felt powerless because I couldn’t truly help him get better. So, I decided to make him one thousand origami cranes. As I learned from the story of Sadako, making one thousand origami cranes grants you one wish and my wish for my uncle to get healthy was successful. I have since made the cranes many more times, and that’s how I met Chelsea.

Chelsea was suffering from Stage 4 Triple Negative Breast Cancer when I sent her a set of cranes. The cranes fostered a friendship between Chelsea and me, and we began exchanging letters. What I learned from those letters was that Chelsea had started her very own charity, Foye Belle, and  The Blue Bag Movement.

The Blue Bag Movement was her brainchild, a way for her to help support people going through the same terrible disease she was suffering from. Chelsea realized the need in her community by sitting for hours in an infusion center, observing the many people who did not have the support of their friends and family or the items she considered essentials to ease the pain of chemotherapy. Chelsea decided to provide chemotherapy patients with a Blue Bag of necessities for treatment designed to support cancer patients while enduring hours of chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, this wonderful woman, who thought more about others than herself, lost her battle to cancer. Now, it is my wish to carry on her dream of helping others by continuing the movement.

If you are currently battling cancer or know someone who is, Foye Belle provides bags containing items Chelsea found to help her alleviate symptoms like nausea with  ginger candies, blankets for comfort and warmth during chemotherapy and entertainment items to help pass the time.

I urge you to join me and check out https://foyebelle.org/

You can also offer your support of the charity and the thousands of people suffering from cancer. Every penny counts toward supporting people like my uncle, like Chelsea, and like your friends and family, because Foye Belle is a charity created by a cancer patient for cancer patients. – Reagan Exley

Shouldn’t my doctor be doing this?

 

Recently, while delivering a comprehensive plan for a client, they exclaimed with exasperation “ Why isn’t my doctor doing this”?  As a result of this encounter, I will attempt to answer this question and hopefully level set the expectations of future patients.

The simple answer is, they don’t have the time.   It’s not what we want to hear especially when we are looking to them to be the experts. Is this valid?

Do they really not have time to do their job?

In a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine: “Allocation of Physician Time in Ambulatory Practice: A time motion study in 4 specialties. “ 57 physicians representing four specialties were observed for 430 hours. All of the observable time was in the office; hospital time and time in the operating room was excluded.

Observer’s tracked activity in categories such as

  • Clinical time, (talking and interacting with patients, or talking with staff about matters directly related to a patient)
  • Desk Work, time spent documenting in electronic health records
  • Administrative time
  • Personal time, which included bathroom breaks and eating

The results of this study validate the fact that your doctor spends just 25% of their time actually calling on her/his skills as a physician due to the 49% of time they spend taking care of the administrative tasks of medicine.

If you have been to your doctor recently you probably noticed that s/he spent as much time communicating and/or examining you as s/he spent typing or dictating into a computer as they try to stay on top of the administrative demands government or insurance industry regulations have placed on them.

Despite the disproportionate amount of clinical to administrative time in the office, Doctors were found to spend an average 1.5 additional hours completing data entry at home.

So what does that mean for you, the patient and healthcare consumer?

  • Now, more than ever you may want to seek the second opinion of a “specialist” if you have a “less common” cancer. The general medical oncologist has a basic knowledge of a variety of the most common cancers; however, for many physicians, time once allocated to reading up on novel therapies or researching clinical trial options for patients has been replaced by administrative tasks.

 

  • You, the patient and consumer must be more proactive to ensure you are prepared for each appointment in order to maximize the few minutes of face time you have with your clinician.

My client had been diagnosed with a “rare” form of a common cancer. She did not feel like her oncologist was hearing her and so she called me. After reviewing her case I helped her access the expertise she needed.

If she had not been proactive she may not have gained access to the newest treatment protocols for her type of cancer.

If you have questions about your current situation please contact me via this site or by phone, 703-403-7600. I am happy to speak with you.

Warmly,

Dana

 

Schedule a get-acquainted call 

The first step is a free 15-minute get-acquainted call to see how I can help. The next step is to schedule our first 90 minute consultation  , where I will personalize a roadmap for you and your family, and determine next steps.