- With Mayo Clinic nurse educator
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.read biographyclose window
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.Sheryl M. Ness
Sheryl Ness, R.N., O.C.N., is a nurse educator for the Cancer Education Program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. She helps inform patients, families and caregivers about services and resources to help them through the cancer journey.
She has a master's degree in nursing from Augsburg College. In addition, she is an assistant professor of oncology at the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, and is certified as a specialist in oncology nursing. Sheryl has worked for more than 20 years at Mayo Clinic as an educator. She has a keen interest in the importance of the quality of life and concerns of people living with cancer.
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Older cancer survivors face unique challenges
By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
As we age, our risk for developing cancer increases. Many cancer survivors are age 75 or older. Older adult cancer survivors face unique challenges.
Older cancer survivors may be at higher risk for changes in quality of life after a diagnosis of cancer and treatment, including memory and cognition problems, worsening of chronic illness (such as heart disease or diabetes), and lack of social support.
Older adults may also have fewer financial resources, which can lead to difficulties managing household expenses and making ends meet.
However, I have found that many cancer survivors in this age group have amazing resilience and strength. They are well grounded and draw their energy and power to move forward from previous life experiences. At times, a positive influence comes from close family connections and a network of friends and social support.
Positive steps related to this issue include awareness that cancer treatments may need to be modified to meet the needs of older cancer patients (taking into consideration any chronic illnesses).
Also, clinical trials for new treatments need to include adults over the age of 75, so that the safety and side effects can be better understood in this age group.
Look for assistance from Navigator programs, mentors and other peer support resources such as the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org or 1-800-227-2345), CancerCare (www.cancercare.org or 1-800-813-4673) and Eldercare Locator (www.eldercare.gov or 1-800-677-1116).
What have you experienced? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic.blog index Next page