You could hear the laughter echoing through the lobby as soon as you got off the elevators on the fourth floor of the Ambulatory Care Center at Temple University Hospital (TUH), home to the Fox Chase Cancer Center at TUH. It was the sound of joyful reunion: of cancer survivors coming together to reunite with one another, and the providers and staff to whom they were so grateful, at the Center’s annual Survivors’ Day.
“The goal of Survivors’ Day is to celebrate our patients, who we consider survivors from their first day of diagnosis,” explains Rosemary Nagy, LCSW, OSW-C, Oncology Social Work Supervisor at FCCC at TUH, who led the planning of the event. “There’s so much about cancer treatment that’s really difficult—even just coming in for care can be so hard. So we want to acknowledge everything our patients have been through, and to thank them for seeking treatment with us.”
A Trip 'Around the World'
Survivors’ Day was also a chance for the FCCC at TUH team to hand out educational materials, and for survivors to meet providers they may not have connected with in the past. “We had tables set up with staff from different departments to talk with patients and provide them with information,” Nagy says. The theme of this year’s Survivors’ Day was “Around the World,” and survivors were given "passports" that they could have stamped by visiting each table.
“All of the staff at our tables were so engaged—about screening, providing resources, and educating the patients,” says Roxana Taveira, Associate Vice President of Oncology at Temple University Hospital. “One of the things that made this year’s event so special was that we really focused on screening and providing resources. We had providers come in and give out FIT tests for colon cancer screening, which we had never done. Our Lung Health Nurse Practitioner was also placing orders for low-dose CT scans for cancer screening, and we were doing referrals for smoking cessation counseling.”
An Event Years in the Making
This year’s Survivors’ Day was also especially significant because it was the first to be held since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ve had so many staff members join us over the past several years, and they’ve heard those of us who have been here for a long time talk about how wonderful Survivors’ Day is,” Taveira explains. “This year, they would finally have the chance to experience it for themselves—and I think that’s one of the reasons they were so dedicated to planning and participating in the event.”
“I think this was the most meaningful Survivors’ Day we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Nagy agrees. “Our staff were so committed to engaging with the patients and having conversations. What we pride ourselves on here at the Center is that we always take the time to sit down with our patients, and to make sure they get what’s going on and where they are in their treatments so they can understand their options and make the best possible decisions. Survivors’ Day was an extension of that approach—and that was one of the most special things about the event.”