Carepath Team Corner with Francine MichaudFrom diagnosis to life after treatment

Carepath Cancer Program provides essential support to employees and their families

The Carepath Cancer Program helps employees, and their families deal with one of the most stressful events in their life — a cancer diagnosis. “Many patients say the time of diagnosis to the time of pre-treatment is the worst period they had to go through,” says Francine Michaud, Director of Clinical Management, Cancer Program.

For any employee, a cancer diagnosis can be one of the most devastating diagnoses of their life. “Having immediate access to our navigation service, through their employer benefits program, provides rapid access to a certified oncology nurse. Assistance from our program means alleviating the acute emotional distress associated with a cancer diagnosis, by giving them guidance, support, and resources when the employee needs it most” she says.

To bring the support full circle, the employee works with the same Carepath nurse throughout their whole cancer journey from the moment of diagnosis, throughout treatments until recovery.

Guidance, education, support

“The oncology nurse’s main goal is to provide guidance, education and support,” says Francine. Initially, the nurse will explore and address the employee’s immediate needs and concerns, which are different for everyone.

“The nurse will give you a better understanding of the cancer diagnosis and what this means to you and your family,” says Francine. “We prepare them for their doctor visits, suggest what questions to ask, and let them know what to expect at the appointment.” This support and education reduce the employee’s fear and apprehension when facing the unknown journey ahead. Education continues by reviewing treatments ahead of them, what to expect, the potential side effects and how they can be managed.

The same nurse will call on a regular basis, to ensure the employee, or their family member, is coping well and to ensure they are managing their side effects related to treatments, whether if it’s after surgery, or during their chemotherapy or radiation. The Carepath nurse will continue to check in on their emotional state by exploring their thoughts and feelings, all along the cancer journey.

The employee or family member can also reach out their nurse as often as needed. “Imagine having the same nurse that knows you whole trajectory and is available when you need it the most,” says Francine

Second opinion

“We consult our medical advisory board as needed, to ensure the employee are receiving the standard of care” states Francine, all the while discussing if there are additional or other treatments that may be available.

Provisory to the employer’s benefit’s package, the employee may have access to a formal virtual second opinion provided by the Cleveland Clinic. For this process, an expert physician will review

their medical records, an provide an in-depth review. “The expert physician will provide them a comprehensive review, including their recommendations and answer their specific questions,” she says.

Care for the whole family

“I always say when you have a Carepath nurse, you have support for your whole family,” says Francine. The employee’s oncology nurse is not there just for the employee, but for the entire family.

The Carepath services are available to the employee, their spouse, and children up to 25 years old. Depending on your employer benefits package, some will also offer parental coverage.

This also means that the employee’s spouse and children can use the service for their cancer journey, or they can join in on the calls. Their Carepath nurse is the sounding board, not just for employee, but for their whole support system. “Many times, we’ll support and navigate the spouse, so they become better caregivers for the person going through treatments,” says Francine.

Set up for success—life after treatment

After treatments, the Carepath oncology nurse will complete a care plan, which they have named “Life after treatments” says Francine. Their nurse will address the challenges or barriers the employee of family member has identified that may impact their return to wellness.

They discuss life after treatments, including healthy lifestyle, the role of proper diet, exercise, and even sexuality. “We talk about future screening and prevention, and review the whole aspect of survivorship, including the fear of recurrence,” says Francine.

The goal is to get back on their feet, so to speak, and to give them the confidence to advocate for themselves through the public healthcare system.

Helping your employee

The employees are juggling work, family life and this new threat to their health. “Our goal is to provide continuous support to augment their well-being and their quality of life while on treatments,” says Francine.

If the employee does have to take some time off, their nurse will work with them to address barriers and challenges that they might face during recovery, such as fatigue, cognitive changes due to chemotherapy and other physical change. “We discuss coping skills, tools, and resources available to them. Our goal is to identify potential strategies to help with their recovery, so they can have a successful return to work, sooner rather than later” she says.

“For some employees, providing this service to their family member is providing them with peace of mind while they’re at work,’’ she says.

“Our clients say that the Carepath Cancer Program is the greatest gift that they can get from their employer, because they don’t have to go through the cancer journey by themselves,” says Francine.