Last week in Part 1, I introduced you to the new initiative at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) in Phoenix) and how Tracy Whitworth, RN, is taking the lead as the first Survivorship Care Coordinator to enter iPEC’s full coach training certification program. This week, we continue my interview with Tracy.
Tracy, what are some of the top challenges facing survivors you believe becoming trained as a coach will help you address?
Fear is the first thing that comes to mind. I recall a close friend of mine who was diagnosed with breast cancer tell me that once she heard she had breast cancer she probably heard about every third word. In that moment, everything the doctor was saying seemed to sound muffled and incoherent. It was hard for her to not to go to a place of despair which can be a very natural response to hearing news like this. It can be even harder for someone to pull himself or herself out of that reaction.
The feeling of sadness or depression in regards to a survivor’s current situation can be another challenge. I see people who aren’t happy with their life, their employment situation or who are merely unhappy with themselves. Often these things get amplified when someone is dealing with cancer. They also may give up on any goals they’ve had along the way of traveling through life.
Many of our clients come to us with ineffective life skills. Sometimes the opportunity in a cancer diagnosis is their realization that change is possible. They are more than willing to do the work necessary to create the changes they want to make if they are shown a road map on how to do so. It is my hope to be able to help show them there is a way out of fear, sadness and feelings of depression or a sense that they have to give up goals and dreams by practicing the principles of what I will be taught in this program.
Within our organization our philosophy and values align very closely with the message I feel iPEC conveys. Cancer Treatment Centers of America is about empowering the patient and respecting their decisions. A large part of those decisions involve patients having the clarity of the information presented to make a truly informed decision — one not necessarily based on that initial debilitating fear or feeling rushed into a decision one isn’t prepared for.
We also work with a team of care providers who help to bring to the table a truly integrative approach. iPEC’s philosophy that the power of the coaching relationship is created in the unique alliance between client and coach speaks to our values around patient-centered care. We want to care for our patients, support them and attend to their needs, but in a way that develops self-confidence, self- efficacy and self-advocacy to be better prepared to move into survivorship post-treatment in the most empowered way possible.. From what I’ve seen thus far, I see clearly how iPEC trained coaches provide this to their clients and how my coach training will help me amplify our patients’ ability to improve their quality of life in survivorship.
By the end of the training program, how do you envision things being different for you in your role at CTCA and how you work with your clients, your co-workers and in your personal life?
I envision being able to offer more options to not only our clients/patients, but to our employees as well. To help them see that there are ways in which to take control of difficult situations without chaos taking hold, without the idea and mindset that there is no solution to a difficult situation and help them realize there are infinite positive possibilities that surround us every day.
If we can employ an approach that gives both our clients/patients and our employees access to more energy and a life of wellbeing, along with tools to create sustainable healthy lifestyle behaviors, then we’re truly being of service at the highest level in caring for our community.
What else would you like to share about the journey you’re about to embark on as someone who is taking the first big step in a vision that both CTCA and iPEC shares with regard to the design and implementation of coaching based cancer survivorship care programs?
Survivorship as a whole in the healthcare scene is changing. We here at Cancer Treatment Centers of America recognize our patients have not only symptom management, financial, spiritual and emotional needs, but we also know putting those pieces together is not so easy.
I believe this program will help me provide patients with new tools to help motivate the creative and innovative side inside them; in not only picking those pieces of their lives up and moving forward, but also making their own beautiful masterpiece out of it. Let’s just say…. I’m looking forward to the exhilarating ride ahead.
We are, too, Tracy! In the coming weeks, we’re going to check in with Tracy on the topic of the language of cancer. This is an important topic because language colors our experience and how we perceive different words and phrases can have an impact on our energy.
We’ll also interview Tracy about her first training weekend, Life and Leadership Potentials and her “Monday Morning” application of what she learned in just the first three days. Leadership is the opportunity to step into a new experience with excitement and enthusiasm. Tracy, thank you for being a leader in a way that will forever change the experience of survivorship. It’s an honor to be partnered with you and CTCA in Phoenix as we step into this new frontier together.