Emotional Impact of Cancer Diagnoses Eased by New Day Foundation

Therapists with Personal Connections To Cancer and Grief Offer Insight

Head shot of Perez smiling. Background is a neighborhood street.

For families and patients coping with a cancer diagnosis, the emotional impact of the fear, anxiety, uncertainly and time sensitive decisions that occur in the immediate aftermath of the diagnosis can push a person past their emotional threshold. New Day Foundation for Families, a Michigan nonprofit dedicated to reducing the financial burden and stress caused by cancer, announces the expansion of its Emotional Support Program to serve more families who may be eligible. The nonprofit has added grief consultant Jenny Perez to its staff as program coordinator.

Perez herself has a very personal connection to grief, having lost her husband to cancer in 2013. At the time, she could not find emotional support from anyone with a shared experience. Today she is working to fulfill the need for emotional support which exists for so many families facing cancer. She sees New Day’s Emotional Support Program as more than a counseling service because it’s personal for the therapists who are offering their expertise. Three of the program’s new therapists are either cancer survivors or are stable and in treatment, while others lost a family member to cancer.

“Grief happens for the family at the moment of a cancer diagnosis,” said Perez. “It’s important that we start talking and recognizing it at that point.  Our goal is to offer emotional support, guidance, and action steps to help families cope. Our therapists can also be a third party in challenging conversations that need to happen,” added Perez. “The sessions can be an outlet for things that a parent, spouse or child need to discuss but can’t talk about with the person facing cancer.”

New Day is partnering with licensed therapists to provide mental health services for qualifying families across Michigan in a caring, confidential environment. Families who have a member in active cancer treatment and are facing financial toxicity as a result of the diagnosis may be referred by their individual oncology social worker at their respective hospital. Sessions may take place in the location where the therapist sees patients as well as through HIPAA-approved TeleHealth programs.

The intake session and the first two 50-minute sessions are free of charge for families facing financial toxicity as a result a cancer diagnosis.  After the first three sessions, each session is offered at a discounted rate for up to five additional sessions. For more information visit the Emotional Support web page, or contact Jenny Perez at 412-304-3567 or by email at jenny@newdayff.org for guidance. New Day’s Emotional Support Program is funded in part by a grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, providing support for mental health services and resources for caregivers affected by cancer in southeast Michigan.

New Day is also creating a video support library that patients undergoing cancer treatment, as well as their caretakers, can access online. The videos and webinars covering a range of topics will be produced by Emmy award-winning television and film personality Kim Adams, who is a breast cancer survivor and was recently named fundraising and development executive for New Day Foundation.

“When I was going through cancer treatment, I was just so tired,” said Adams. “There are SO many good books out there, but you’re just too tired to read them. Watching a short video is much easier.”

Research from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network indicates that, for cancer patients, “early evaluation and screening for distress leads to early and timely management of symptoms, which in turn improves adherence to treatment, communication between patient and medical team, and fewer calls and visits to the oncologists’ office. Evidence from randomized trials shows that psychological interventions in cancer patients with distress may lead to a survival advantage over those who do not receive psychosocial care. However, less than half of distressed patients with cancer are identified and referred for psychosocial help.” (National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Distress Management (Version 1.2019). Accessed February 27, 2019.)

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