Greater Living
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GBMC Greater Living Discusses Cancer Survivorship

May 14, 2018
Cancer involves so much more than medical care. On top of getting a scary diagnosis and enduring difficult treatments, patients have to deal with finances and insurance, the logistics of getting to multiple appointments, seemingly endless amounts of paperwork, talking about uncomfortable topics with their families, and much more. It can be confusing and overwhelming, which is why GBMC has an entire department dedicated to helping patients with their non-clinical needs. In this interview, Brandon Costantino, Manager of Oncology Support Services (OSS) for the Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute at GBMC, talks about the many resources offered to patients undergoing treatment for a cancer diagnosis.

The OSS team includes two social workers, an outreach coordinator, a survivorship nurse, and a patient resource navigator. They provide everything from counseling, to assistance with finances, to transportation coordination, and anything else a patient might need. "We want to be the people who can solve your problem or get you to the people who can. If you need something that isn't clinical, come see us," Brandon says. If GBMC can't meet your needs in-house, the OSS team is able to refer you to the proper resources outside of the organization.

Oncology support services are available to anyone associated with GBMC — both patients and caregivers. A cancer diagnosis can be incredibly draining for family and close friends of the patient. Navigating through the complexities of the ever-changing healthcare system and simply knowing how to be there for their loved one sometimes feels insurmountable. "One of the hardest things," says Brandon, "is getting caretakers to care for themselves first." He likened it to using oxygen masks on an airplane. "If you aren't breathing, you can't help someone else breathe."

GBMC works hard to make sure that oncology support services are accessible for everyone. "We don't charge a single penny for anything we do," explains Brandon. "We would never want finances to be the reason someone doesn't get what they need." The program is entirely funded by donors and proceeds from events like Legacy Chase at Shawan Downs, a steeplechase horse race held every year in Cockeysville.

Every year, Oncology Support Services also throws a Cancer Survivorship Celebration. After all, survivorship starts as soon as you are diagnosed and are living with cancer! All current and former GBMC cancer patients are invited! The event brings everyone together in a non-clinical setting to eat, dance, and simply celebrate life.

Watch the entire series:

Part 1 — Dr. Robert Donegan, MD, Medical Oncology

Part 2 — Brandon Costantino, Oncology Support Services at GBMC

Part 3 — Barbara Pisano Messing, The Milton J. Dance, Jr. Head & Neck Center, Head & Neck Surgery, and the Johns Hopkins Voice Center located at GBMC

Part 4 — Beth Nardone, Co-Chair of the Oncology Patient & Family Advisory Council and Cancer Survivor
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