A free online self-help tool to support people recently diagnosed with cancer has been launched in South Australia.
The program, developed by Flinders University researcher Dr Lisa Beatty, can be accessed from any device around the world and is being adapted by local health services in England, Europe and the US.
“We are pleased to partner with the University and Flinders Foundation to launch the new, mobile friendly version of the Finding My way Program,” says Cancer Council SA Chief Executive Lincoln Size.
“A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event and can often result in significant distress, and we are proud to support Finding My Way, which is a tool to support patients through their cancer journey.”
The free program, designed by Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer and clinical psychologist Dr Lisa Beatty, addresses common issues that people experience during a cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
For program participant Wayne Cameron, the program was a lifeline during a particularly difficult time. Wayne was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2012 and recently lost his wife to breast cancer.
He explains how the program not only helped him understand his own diagnosis, but also helped him support his wife.
“When I started the program I didn’t really know how it would help me, but as I went through it I could see the difference it made. It’s really hard being in a relationship when two people are both sick, so it helped me to relate to things on both sides,” Mr Cameron says.
“The trouble with a cancer diagnosis is you just don’t understand everything. You’re told a lot of stuff by a lot of different people so it’s good to have somewhere to turn. I would log on to the program, go through how I was feeling, how I was coping and what was going on during that stage of my life and then was given tools to understand my feelings.
“It covered every aspect from diagnosis to treatment which was really helpful. For me, the one thing I’ve taken away from the program is to live each day to the fullest. You have to give everything a good shot as life can change in an instant, so you need to stay positive.”
Mr Cameron participated in the Flinders University trial of the Finding My Way program, which was conducted in six hospitals nationally.
The trial found that the online program improved patient’s abilities to manage their distress and reduced the need for patients to access other health services like psychologists, counsellors, dieticians, naturopaths, physiotherapists and chiropractors.
Dr Beatty anticipates that Finding My Way will be a welcome support tool to help Australians deal with the shock, anger, guilt and uncertainty that comes with a cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
“People are often reluctant to seek help and there’s a stigma about seeing a psychologist – there’s also people who live in remote and regional areas who simply aren’t able to access help.
“Finding My Way is private, anonymous and a convenient way of getting some help without seeing someone face-to-face.”
Dr Beatty is hoping that the program will be utilised by clinicians nationally and internationally to support those diagnosed with cancer and their families.
“There are very few online, evidence-based resources that focus on the mental and emotional aspects of cancer diagnosis and treatment. We believe Finding My Way can be utilised nationally, and even internationally to provide support for people living through a cancer diagnosis.”
Finding My Way is proudly supported by Flinders University, Flinders Foundation, SA Health and Cancer Council SA, and was developed with project-funding support from the National Health and Medical Research Council.
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