A series of free, educational classes will kick off Tuesday at Carolinas Medical Center-Lincoln in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The weekly classes, which will have varying themes, are part of an effort to interact with local cancer patients and survivors prior to the hospital starting up its own oncology practice.
Oncology Nurse Navigator Ann Elrod told the Times-News Wednesday that CMC-Lincoln is in the process of hiring a physician to begin offering chemotherapy treatment and other oncology care by December. The hospital decided at the first of the year to bring those services here, she said, adding that they’ve been “needed for a while.”
With the four upcoming classes, she hopes to get a feel for what the needs are locally.
Her position is a relatively new one, having previously spent 29 years in oncology care, up until February, at CMC-Main in Charlotte. Partnering with the Levine Cancer Institute, CMC-Lincoln is implementing a nurse-navigator program in Lincoln County, with Elrod leading the charge.
Nurse navigators are intended to help and guide cancer patients and their caregivers through every step of the process, from diagnosis to treatment, and hopefully to remission.
Elrod said the vision for the program is to be able to provide the same care in outlying areas, like Lincoln County, as is available in larger cities so patients don’t have to leave their hometowns to receive treatment.
She has currently been in contact with roughly 70 local patients who are or have been treated elsewhere to begin offering them support.
The classes will provide a chance to get the word out about the new oncology services, in addition to letting Elrod survey what types of questions and concerns need to be addressed.
Cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, family and friends are all encouraged to attend the classes, and Elrod noted that this month’s sessions are not limited to just those diagnosed with breast cancer. She wants patients of various medical backgrounds and diagnoses to attend, though she admits “there will be a lot of pink” at the classes.
Depending on both the success of and the level of interest in this initial round of classes, Elrod said she plans to offer similar series in the future.
The topic for the Oct. 9 class will be oncology for Lincolnton, while the Oct. 16, 23 and 30 classes will cover, respectively, a survivor’s story, nutrition and spiritual support from the hospital’s chaplain. They will additionally address such things as exercise and medical follow-up.
All classes begin at 11:30 a.m. in the Elm Classroom on the first floor of the CMC-Lincoln medical plaza.
To register, call Elrod at (980) 212-6031.