For patients going through cancer treatment, little things can make a world of difference.
The Lahey Hospital & Medical Center staff working with patients undergoing cancer treatment know this firsthand.
“For years our staff has given holding crosses to patients who express a spiritual belief,” said Laura Kenda, a nurse in radiation oncology.
The tradition waxed and waned, but now the team is offering holding crosses to these patients again thanks to a volunteer in Burlington who has offered to make these as a gift for our patients going through their cancer treatments.
Patients are assessed before they start treatment not just for physiologic responses but emotional and spiritual concerns as well. If the patient reports a Christian belief and expresses how this helps them, the Radiation Oncology nurse may offer a cross which can be held for quiet meditation or prayer.
A man from Burlington has carved 10 wooden crosses. As a neighbor of someone who had been a patient here, he was happy to lend a helping hand. They’re light in color and asymmetrical to comfortably fit between someone’s palms. So far one of the crosses has been given away since they received this donation just a few weeks ago.
“When appropriate, we have them handy to give to our patients to take home,” said Sisilla Thomas, a nurse in the department.
Patients going through cancer treatment are often having a tough time. Gestures such as this can be an extra bright spot in their day.
This is just one example of the many ways the Radiation Oncology department supports the whole patient. For patients belonging to other faiths, a “healing prayer” handout including prayers from the Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish and Hindu faiths is offered and visits from the Chaplain’s office are available. The department also gets flowers donated by Trader Joe’s for patients, medals donated by runners and swimmers to help along the patient’s journey, and they offer a bell for patients to ring to signify the end of their treatment course.
Celebrating the whole patient allows the team to think creatively for new and innovative ways to support patients, something they take great pride in doing.