If We Build It Will They Come?

November 2017 Vol 8, No 11
Carolyn Allsen, BSN, RN, OCN, ONN-CG
Memorial Hermann – The Woodlands
Sylvia Brown, MS, RN, OCN, CNL, ONN-CG
Sandra Miller, MHSM, RN, NE-BC

Background: The American Cancer Society acknowledged an estimated 1,688,780 new cancer diagnoses by the end of 2017. A survivor is defined as, “any person with a history of cancer, from the time of diagnosis through the remainder of life.”1 “Most community cancer centers in the United States are designed and staffed to focus on meeting the physical needs of patients with cancer and their families.”2 According to the Memorial Hermann Cancer Journal,3 “Patients, families and caregivers find it hard to transition to a new normal after treatment.” Memorial Hermann Health System (MHHS) has always provided cancer survivor programs; however, based on community interest and philanthropic support, it responded to the need for personalized, evidence-based survivorship care. Memorial Hermann developed 2 comprehensive survivorship centers.

Objectives: To provide holistic, evidence-based care in a setting designed to support the social, psychological, and ongoing care needs of cancer survivors. To implement survivorship programs to increase awareness and grow access to these services for patients and providers. To partner with our community philanthropists to build survivorship centers that reflect the care and compassion cancer survivors need during their cancer journey.

Methods: The evaluation of current programs and attendance was measured for 12 months before and after the survivorship centers opened. Patient feedback was obtained through oncology navigation and focused on development of patient preferences and stated needs. Innovative services were offered to include real-time patient requests for care and support.

Results: The Canopy Survivorship Community Center and the Lindig Family Cancer Resource Center were developed in Houston, opening in July 2016. Over 6000 patients and caregivers attended the MHHS survivorship centers. Continual feedback was obtained from participants to ensure needs were met. In fact, Bible study and financial planning/advanced directives classes were implemented as a result of this feedback. Popular programs include art and music therapy, prosthetic breast and hair fittings, yoga, cooking classes for kids of cancer patients, and caregiver and widow support. Attendance for over 50 free programs continues to grow with support from our community volunteers and referring clinicians.

Conclusion: As the survivorship population increases, the need for survivorship centers/programs will become more prevalent. All programs were successful in attracting and supporting cancer survivors, with significant increases seen among yoga classes. Comparing 12 months of attendance data before and after center openings, there was a 20% increase at the Canopy and a 25% increase at the Lindig centers. Spanish classes were added as requested, and in only 4 months there was a 47% increase in class participation at the Canopy. Conversely, it was observed that programs such as male support groups and programs held during evenings and weekends were not well attended. This demonstrated the continued need to provide cancer survivorship services and to recommend continued ongoing communication within the cancer community about survivorship care. The tremendous support shown by the community for these survivorship centers continues to inspire planning for further programs and services for cancer survivors.


  1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2017. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society. 2017.
  2. Schlairet M, Heddon MA, Griffis M. Piloting a needs assessment to guide development of a survivorship program for a community cancer center. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2010;37:501-508.
  3. Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers. Moving Forward After Cancer Diagnosis: Two Comprehensive Memorial Hermann Programs Help Survivors Cope. Memorial Hermann Cancer Journal. http://cancer.memorialhermann.org/journal/moving-forward-after-a-cancer-diagnosis. 2016.
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