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The power of positivity

Kirsten Dobroth

This article was written by Kirsten Dobroth and originally ran in the Vail Daily on June 28 2016

Shaw Regional Cancer Center offers a plethora of programs such as yoga to help incorporate more individualized aspects of treatment into a patient's plan.  

When it comes to healing there's an intangible quality that positivity brings to the table. Part of that positivity comes from the environment that patients are part of when beginning down the path of a longer treatment program for chronic illness or recovering from a temporary ailment.

Regional providers and caretakers are aiming more of their treatment programs to touch on this aspect of creating a positive and comfortable atmosphere for patients to heal where the individual is defined by who he or she is — not by a diagnosis.

The optimism effect

The power of positivity in relation to healing and health is one that researchers have long studied and they have conceded that a relationship exists although the details of such a relationship are hard to pin down.

Generally speaking higher levels of optimism are correlated with everything from lower instances of the common cold to better coping skills during times of stress and hardship according to the Mayo Clinic. Researchers from John Hopkins School of Medicine even found a connection between higher levels of optimism and lower levels of heart disease and occurrence of a cardiovascular event.

This can be of particular importance to the parts of the population undergoing health problems as oftentimes a revolving door of doctors and hospitals takes a significant emotional toll on patients and their families.

Regional leader

Shaw Regional Cancer Center embraces the philosophy of the power of positivity when it comes to healing by offering treatment programs amenities and familial support to patients in order to get them feeling more like themselves and less like patients.

“We treat the whole body rather than just the symptoms and we do that by having a comprehensive team approach — nurses doctors social workers physical therapists registered dieticians exercise physiologists and pharmacists are all part of the treatment process” said Lindy Owens a nurse at the Shaw Center.

The regional cancer center also offers resources to family members of Shaw patients such as lodging to create a situation where people receiving treatment can have members of their support team present. Providing the opportunity for family members to be a part of the process of cancer treatment on such a personal level allows patients to stay connected to those important to them during treatment but also allows doctors to have a better understanding of the individual they are treating.

A focus on exercise with access to trainers yoga and meditation allows those currently undergoing treatment to keep up physically with things that are important to them in daily life.

“We want anyone that comes through our doors feel like they're taking back control” said Margaret Brammer an oncology social worker at Shaw. “We connect people with exercise physiologists so that they can concentrate on things that are important to them while they go through treatment.”

The regional cancer treatment center also sets up activities to connect survivors current patients and their family members with outings in the area to take advantage of all the natural amenities the area has to offer.

In-home help

True North Nursing Services and Massage Therapy offers a similar approach for patients looking for a more personalized treatment plan for chronic pain illness injury or end-of-life hospice care by specializing in at-home care for patients both with nursing services and massage.

Gerlinde Debie-Millette a registered nurse and massage therapist who founded the business often works with locals in their homes or with visitors who are in town receiving treatment or undergoing surgery for various ailments.

“People like to see the same person coming in and caring for them and we strive for continuity in both nursing care and massage therapy” she said.

The massage aspect works off of the nursing aspect by giving patients another option for care through relaxation — and it works well with a team of nurses and aids who know and understand the person for which they're caring.

True North's concierge nursing and massage services are just as accessible to visitors as locals with nurses from the company often providing care for tourists who might be in town recovering from surgery or ill family members who need care during their family trip. Debie-Millette said the ability to tailor care to meet an individual's needs is an important part of the healing process along with providing peace of mind for care recipients reaching the end of their lives.

“We communicate directly with a person's doctors to figure out how to tailor someone's care to meet their needs from the comfort of their home or hotel room” she said “I try to think of how I would want to be taken care of and being a trusted and familiar person is an important part of that.”

Both facilities credit the approach with creating a service that offers a high standard of care while also respecting those battling illness by creating a plan that recognizes their individual needs and fosters positivity as opposed to defining them by a diagnosis.

Here's a list of options for alternative treatment and in-home help.

• Shaw Regional Cancer Center 970-569-7429.

• True North Nursing Services and Massage Therapy

• HomeCare & Hospice of the Valley 970-569-7455.