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Cancer Rehab is Not One Size Fits All

oneSizeIn the past few weeks, I’ve talked about cancer rehab in general, various cancer certifications to look for, and I provided some tools to help you find qualified cancer rehab and fitness professionals. This is all important, if pragmatic, information. But now I want to share the more personal issues surrounding my decision to open the region’s first cancer-specific rehab clinic here in Loudoun County, Virginia.

This is Teamwork

I have always expressed to my patients that  a good “fit” is essential for successful outcomes in therapy. If you don’t feel like you and your therapist are a team, it is a good indication that you may need to look for a different therapist. Sometimes a patient comes to us simply because his or her physician writes the referral, but oftentimes it’s because their experience with another therapist or facility has been unsatisfactory and they’re (or a friend or family member) are looking for a better fit.

Regardless of how a patient comes to us, I’ve noticed a common theme: Survivors would much rather be a big fish in a little pond than a little fish in a big ocean. The piece of the puzzle that is often missing for survivors is feeling heard. Navigating the world of oncology can be a hard, cold, sometimes bleak, and often scary place. My vision for Oncology Rehab and Wellness Resources springs from that understanding, and I  work toward the exact opposite in my practice. Cancer rehab is simply not a one-size-fits-all business.

Why Those Certifications & Experience Matter

Glowing letters coming out from cooking potI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Putting “cancer” in front of “rehab” does not always make for cancer rehab. There are very unique side effects from cancer, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and other cancer-related medications that someone without cancer certifications and experience working with survivors simply may not understand or identify. In the best case scenario, this could result in little or no improvement in the condition. If little or no improvement is realized, it may result in a patient giving up on rehab altogether, which in turn can impact his or her health forever. In a worst case scenario, more harm may be done.

Herein lies the beauty of not just being a cancer rehab clinician but being the owner of Oncology Rehab and Wellness Resources. It falls to me to ensure that every person I hire not only has the certifications to work with survivors and has plenty of experience to back it up, but also – and perhaps equally as important – a passion for helping people thrive. With this passion almost always comes empathy, the ability to truly be able to put ourselves in a survivor’s’ shoes and care about the whole person, not just the “patient.” Whether your idea of thriving is to be able to do your own grocery shopping, get back to a full workday, or run the Boston Marathon, we want to know about it.

No Big Bureaucracy Here

“Your Partners in Recovery” isn’t just a snappy tagline that sounds good. It’s who we are. We understand it’s those little things that get in the way of thriving, so my job as a lead clinician and the sole owner of the clinic is to ensure you get some very basic things:

  • The ability to promptly begin treatment without waiting for days or even weeks.
  • The confidence that your clinician understands a specific cancer- or treatment-related impairment.
  • No big business bureaucracy where the people who make the decisions are so far removed from the front lines they lose sight of what is important.
  • A policy that welcomes your caregiver or medical advocate to participate in your rehab program and education.
  • An understanding that cancer rehab is quite the opposite of one-size-fits-all.
  • An extension of your cancer support community.

Although your condition (or conditions) that send you to rehab may not be life threatening, we understand that they may be QUALITY of life threatening. At my practice, we believe helping you improve your quality of life through rehab and fitness are exactly what will help you thrive. We don’t pretend to know exactly what each person needs from the first moment we meet, but our first priority at Oncology Rehab and Wellness Resources is to listen to each person and really HEAR not only what you need but what you want. Then we tie it all together with evidence-based, cancer-specific rehab and fitness programs led by highly qualified clinicians and trainers.

We’re trained to understand and identify issues that may require a detour from your reason for the initial appointment. A fitness client may need to go back into rehab. Or a rehab patient may need to suspend treatment for a few weeks to deal with another health issue. But when you’re ready to get back to rehab or fitness training, we’ll be right here waiting for you.

Please email me if you have any questions about this or previous blog posts at cguarna@oncrehabandwellness.com.

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