A program for young cancer patients established at Rambam Health Care last year has proven to be successful, and will be launched nationwide.
Thousands of young Israelis are diagnosed with cancer every year. However, in addition to dealing with a difficult illness, they also have to cope with unique, age-related issues. In order to meet the growing needs of this group, Rambam Health Care Campus launched OncoYoung, a program for young oncology patients, approximately one year ago in collaboration with the Halasartan ("Stop Cancer") project and with the support of the Israel Cancer Association, in order to provide customized treatment, and professional advice for young people with cancer. As part of the program, meetings and workshops are held in which up-to-date professional information is provided.
In a meeting held recently in Rambam’s Joseph Fishman Oncology Center with the participation of representatives of the largest oncology institutes in Israel (Professor Irit Ben-Aharon from Rambam - Director of the Oncology Division and the initiator and director of OncoYoung; Dr. Naama Halpern from Sheba Medical Center/Tel Hashomer; Dr. Sharon Peles from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center/Ichilov; and Dr. Hadar Goldwasser from Rabin Medical Center/Beilinson) and representatives of the Halasartan project (established by the Tal Center Association) presented the results of the program's activities, with the aim of implementing the program nationally in all major hospitals.
The program at Rambam—whose results are also evaluated using research—touches on a wide range of areas, including social aspects, emotional state, cognitive function, functional rehabilitation, relationships, sexuality and body image, fertility, menopause/androposis, and more. OncoYoung has extremely high satisfaction rates among patients, and is continuously expanding.
In the framework of the program, a “patients council” was founded. Meetings are held periodically, contributing to the design of the program's activities in consultation with the patients themselves. In addition, a survey conducted by members of the Halasartan community identified the need to create meetings between new patients and those who already recovered. Thus, for the first time, a recovered patient representative from the Halasartan community joined the program – an individual whose role is help new patients to access the variety of digital tools provided by community members that are designed to benefit the patients' unique needs.
"The group of young cancer patients presents a treatment challenge to the medical community," explains Professor Ben-Aharon. "These patients are expected to have a long life expectancy after recovery, which may be accompanied by further future illness and various repercussions from the treatment they receive. The system that deals with them is obligated to provide them with holistic treatment, which includes a vision of coping in the present situation as well as in the future."