As Batesville resident Jeri Hudson took another look in the mirror, she couldn’t believe how much the wig looked like her own hair. As a woman, she never thought she would lose her hair, but as a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy it was to be expected.
As she looked at her reflection with the new wig, she realized with gratitude that not only was UAMS providing her with excellent medical care, but dedicated staff and volunteers were meeting other needs as well.
Hudson, diagnosed with lobular breast cancer, received more than she anticipated through the Patient Support Pavilion.
Located on the first floor of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, “the Patient Support Pavilion is designed to meet the patient’s emotional needs,” said Porter Puckett, manager of hospitality at the Cancer Institute.
The area includes a relaxation room with a quiet atmosphere with comfortable seating and blankets. The pavilion also has cancer education materials as well as books, puzzles and newspapers. Patients can choose from among 22 CDs on the use of guided imagery to enhance their healing. Session topics include “Fighting Cancer,” “Easing Pain” and “Relieving Depression.”
The Wig and Hat Shop provides patients who are losing their hair with one free wig and several hats per year. Trained volunteers and staff fit patients so they may get what best suits them.
“I had no idea that they offered this,” Hudson said. “When I walked in, they told me all that was available to me. I really appreciate all they did to help me get what I needed and wanted.”
The “Look Good … Feel Better” program sponsored by the American Cancer Society provides a free makeover by a trained cosmetologist. “These women have to face the reality of cancer, but we can provide comfort and a feeling of hope. It’s a short fix, but it helps them as they undergo treatment,” Holly Tindall, education coordinator, said.
It’s not only about helping them feel better during treatment, but to continue with their everyday lives. A business center in the pavilion provides access to computers, Wi-Fi, a fax machine, scanner and copier.
In addition to the support pavilion, a team of social workers, pharmacists, chaplains and dietitians at the Cancer Institute provide assistance to patients.
Located in the Palliative Care Clinic, Lindsey Dayer, Pharm. D., and a board-certified ambulatory care pharmacist, is available throughout the day to consult with cancer patients. She helps physicians with prescriptions and counsels with patients about dosage, interactions and side effects.
Three full-time social workers provide resources for patients’ emotional needs and serve as their advocates.
“We are here to be with patients and families in several parts of their journey with cancer,” said Harriet Farley, social work program manager. “We can act as advocates and help them navigate the medical system. We can provide assistance with concrete needs and refer to financial resources. And we are here to be with patients and families in sorting through the emotional impact of this disease on their lives.”
Dietitians in the Cancer Institute ensure patients’ diets fit with their lifestyle and treatment plan.
At UAMS it’s not only about patients getting the best medical treatment, it’s making sure patients like Hudson aren’t thought of just as a cancer patient — but as a person.