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

Resources and Support for a Cancer Caregiver

Resources and Support for a Cancer Caregiver

Are you serving as a cancer caregiver? If so, know that you’re not alone. In 2011, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index reported that more than 1 in 6 Americans working full-time or part-time was assisting with caring for an elderly or disabled family member, relative, or friend.

Today – 7 years later – complex cancer care is shifting away from the inpatient hospital setting and moving into the home. That’s why I am offering resources and support for a cancer giver in today’s blog post.

The 7 Aspects of Caregiving

I recently read the results of a study published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, that was designed to better understand the needs and quality of life concerns of those providing care to a loved one with cancer. They interviewed people who were caring for a loved one with cancer. Their answers fell into seven aspects of caregiving:

Physical Support for a Cancer Caregiver

Family caregivers expressed a desire to understand the patient’s needs as well as be present, attentive, and reassuring. The most repeated theme was the presence of and difficulty in dealing with treatment-related side effects.

Psychological Support for a Cancer Caregiver

Uncertainty was a common theme that often gave way to anxiety, stress, and feeling overwhelmed. Many caregivers expressed a desire to be present and offer support even as they faced a lack of emotional energy.

Social Support for a Cancer Caregiver

A recurring theme among those caring for a loved one with cancer was social isolation – felt both by the one being cared for and the caregiver. Caregivers reported needing support and not just information. A quote from one caregiver says that “ The details about the clinical trials available online needed to be supplemented with a person who could answer questions. “ This caregiver found the information to be confusing, overwhelming, and largely indecipherable. “ It’s just a lot of literature that I have no idea about… I did not go to med school; I don’t know what I’m reading. I need help”

Spiritual Support for a Cancer Caregiver

Having a faith community provided a source of support for those caring for a loved one with cancer.

Financial Support for a Cancer Caregiver

There were many costs associated with care, but the most commonly reported were the expenses of last-minute flights, gasoline, overnight hotel stays, restaurant meals, and time lost at work. Even those who reported having healthcare coverage and financial stability voiced anxiety about the financial impact.

Caregiver Self-Care

The majority of the respondents were neglecting self-care in order to care for their loved ones. Many reported a lack of sleep and exhaustion. The family caregivers in this study voiced their need for support and resources.

Cancer Caregiving Tips

Are you caring for a loved one with cancer? An independent health consultant with subject matter expertise in Oncology could supply some of the much-needed support to help you move forward with confidence:

  • Helping the family caregiver understand the disease and better anticipate the side effects associated with their loved one’s treatment eliminates much of the anxiety associated with uncertainty.
  • Connecting the family with community support services alleviates the isolation and allows the family caregiver an opportunity for self-care.
  • Providing clarification and understanding of the medical literature, specifically clinical trials and treatment options to increase confidence in decision-making.
  • Connecting the caregiver with resources to assist with managing the financial burdens associated with a catastrophic illness

Best Resources for a Cancer Caregiver

Are you or someone you know serving as a cancer caregiver? Are you feeling overwhelmed? If so, I have developed a resource to help you:

  • Educate yourself on the disease and help you know what to expect
  • Understand the medical jargon, treatment options, and clinical trials
  • Assemble your clinical and support teams
  • Locate financial, psychological, and social support
  • Manage your mindset

Invest in Your Guide to Navigating a Cancer Diagnosis today. Or you request a complimentary consult to learn more about how I can help. Call 703-403-7600 or email dana@cancer-champions.com today.

Have You Been Diagnosed With Cancer?  5 Steps To Move Forward

Have You Been Diagnosed With Cancer? 5 Steps To Move Forward

When you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, the physical and emotional stress of this challenging disease begins almost immediately. Emotions take control, which inhibits decision-making at a critical time. More specifically, a time when you are expected to make life-altering decisions about an unfamiliar subject matter – all while navigating a complex and fragmented healthcare system.

You are faced with overwhelming amounts of information, including cancer treatment options, specialists, and tests.

This unfamiliarity that comes with being diagnosed with cancer can cause feelings of fear, uncertainty, and dread – all of which are distractions from your cancer care and detrimental to your emotional well-being.

The first step after being diagnosed with cancer? Take a breath.  

Steps to Take After Being Diagnosed with Cancer

Realize that you have choices. You can stop the conveyor belt that starts immediately after diagnosis long enough to gain your footing. Here are 5 steps to successfully navigating this uncharted territory:

1. Take Time To Consider What is Most Important To You

  • Do you want to stay close to family and friends as you undergo treatment or pursue treatment at a larger cancer center?
  • What side effects are you willing to endure and what would you rather avoid?
  • Are you interested in pursuing complementary treatments?
  • What characteristics are most important to you in your healthcare provider?
  • Do you get energy from sharing with others or are you more prone to minimal sharing with a close circle of friends/ family?

2. Educate Yourself About Your Disease

  • Ask your healthcare provider for trusted resources, websites
  • What stage/ grade is my disease?
  • What are the treatment options for cancer like mine?
  • Is my cancer rare?
  • Has genomic testing been ordered for my tumor?
  • Would it be reassuring to have someone with expertise help you flatten your learning curve?
  • In gathering information be careful not to adopt other people’s “cancer story” for yourself

3. Assemble your Healthcare Team

  • Do you need the expertise of a specialist?
  • Do you feel seen and heard by the staff/nurses/physicians?
  • How far are you willing to travel for treatment?
  • Does the office respect your time?

4. Gather your supportive resources

  • Identify the gifts and talents of your friends and family and let them help you with the tasks they are best suited to
  • Locate local support groups and/or connect with an oncology social worker
  • Let your insurance agent, CPA, and/or financial planner know about your diagnosis

5. Communicate Your Wishes

  • Share your desires with family members
  • Utilize this opportunity to ensure all family members have advanced directives in place

As your private patient navigator, I can help you alongside your cancer journey. Contact me for a complimentary consultation.

How to Hire an Independent Patient Advocate or Health Consultant

How to Hire an Independent Patient Advocate or Health Consultant

You may have heard the term patient advocate. You may even know someone who has benefitted from the services of a patient advocate However, you may be unclear as to how to find and hire one.

How do I  find an advocate?

First, know the difference between an independent patient advocate and an institutional advocate.

Most hospital systems and cancer centers provide advocates, patient navigators, or case managers for their patients.  The job descriptions may vary slightly, however, their main objective is to ensure patients are able to navigate within their institutions.   Their ultimate allegiance is to the institution they work for.

It is common for these individuals to manage several patients at once which minimizes the level of personal attention they are able to provide.

In contrast, an independent advocate/ health consultant works for the client they serve, which means their allegiance is to you.  Their objective is to help you meet your goals and to ensure you get the personal attention required for your specific situation.

What qualifications should you look for when hiring an independent advocate/ health consultant?

There are many facets to healthcare.  The actual treatments, medical billing and insurance, hospitalizations, and finding the necessary expertise for complicated diagnoses are just a few.

What you should look for depends on the situation you are facing, so you must first consider the question: ‘What do I need help with?’ 

  • Do you need help finding a second opinion for a new diagnosis?
  • Do you need help understanding your treatment options?
  • Do you need help with medical billing or insurance?
  • Do you feel alone and need a partner in decision-making?
  • Are you supporting loved ones and it has become overwhelming?

Once you have identified what you are looking for it is time to search for the professional who will best meet your needs.  Remember the advocate with the most expertise may not be located near you. However, many specialized advocates routinely provide their services remotely.

There are several public  directories available that allow you to search by location, keyword, or the service you are looking for.

Questions to help you choose an independent patient advocate/ health consultant?

Once you have located several potential independent advocates who provide the services you are looking for, the next step is to interview them to see if there is a fit. An advocate should provide a complimentary call for you to get to know them and to ask questions.  These calls may range from 15 to 20 minutes and are not meant to provide you with specific advocacy solutions.

  • What are your advocacy or care management credentials?
  • Have you had other cases similar to mine?
  • What is your background, training, and experience in providing these services?
  • Are you certified for this work?
  • What do you charge for your services?
  • Does anyone else pay you to help me?
  • Do you have errors and omissions insurance?
  • Do you know the approximate amount of time it will take you to help me?
  • What is your current caseload?
  • Do you have references?

If you would like to learn more about how I can specifically help you or a loved one, please contact us for a complimentary get-acquainted call at  Cancer Champions.

 

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.