My visit to the London Oncology Clinic, Harley Street

26 June 2019 by Petra Erving

Last week I attended a program that the LOC offer to their patients. It is run by Living Well, which is headed up by Dr Michelle Kohn who started the program in 2009. Dr Kohn specialises in supportive care and cancer survivorship.

Living Well is a flexible program that allows you to pick and choose from a range of group workshops, one to one consultations and expert talks. There is advice on nutrition, coping with difficult emotions, physical activities and fitness, amongst other things. The speakers I listened to were engaging and spoke on make-up suitable for patients going through chemotherapy and various ‘safe’ hair products and hair dyes to use on newly grown hair. Unbeknownst to me, it is advised that patient’s don’t start to dye their hair until 6 months after their chemo has finished. A little nugget of valuable information I’ll be able to pass on to my own patients. Another speaker talked on the importance of relaxation and meditation. When I say meditation, it’s not what we envisage as sitting cross legged in a darkened room at dawn break, but simply just taking 10 - 15 minutes each day to sit quietly in a comfortable chair, or lying on your sofa. The important thing is to have that time to yourself. In today’s fast paced and stressful life and work environment, I think we are all too guilty of not taking time out to just switch off our minds from outside influences and think about ourselves. Interestingly, the majority of those attending put stress as one of the contributing factors for their cancer diagnosis. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this and so for 80% of the 20 - 30 patients attending, there must be something in it.

Happy family

Lunch was served and offered various extremely tasty salads like: chicken Caesar, smoked fish, mixed bean, grilled courgettes and various other mixed delights. After everyone had had their fill, it was decided that the genius chef would hold a cookery demonstration during a future program.

After lunch it was Working with Cancer speaking on getting back to work. Again lots of information on what help is available to patients, advice on reducing hours and highlighting that employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments like: allowing for a phased return to work, allowing time off for medical appointments, adjusting duties, allowing flexible working hours, or working from home. The key point that was stressed throughout was communication, communication, communication. If you’re not feeling your usual self you must communicate that to your employer. If you’re feeling tired and stressed regarding not getting your work completed, you must communicate to your employer. Again, interesting stuff that I had never thought about and again information that I can pass onto my patients.

There was a short talk on complimentary therapies like reflexology, aromatherapy and massage in general. One lady asked about the safety of having massage after lymph node dissection and Dr Kohn briefly introduced me, sitting quietly at the back. I was able to give a little bit of input. I’m hoping that this is something that they will now integrate into their program; a talk in the lymphatic system, lymphoedema and the benefits of manual lymphatic drainage postoperatively. So, we will be meeting to discuss this in the very near future. I must say, it would be a pleasure to be involved in such an obviously worthwhile program. It is however a shame that this type of program isn’t available to more patients having to cope with cancer. But, perhaps this is the start of something that could be rolled out nationwide if other facilities and clinics can see how incredibly worthwhile this is to their patients.

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