When walkers, runners, families, friends, and caregivers gather in Burlington on June 11, 2023 for the Lahey Cancer Institute 5K Walk & Run, they will not only be showing their support for patients and survivors, but also helping to advance world-class cancer care. Proceeds from this event support the Lahey Cancer Institute’s mission to deliver personalized, compassionate care. We asked two Lahey Hospital & Medical Center (LHMC) providers, Kathryn Thibedeau, PsyD, and Mark Leone, LICSW, to reflect on what the 5K means to them, their patients, and the broader Lahey community.
Finding Strength in Community
As a clinical psychologist specializing in oncology, Kathryn uses a strengths-based approach in providing therapeutic support to patients with cancer and feels privileged to support these individuals as they go through the cancer treatment and recovery process. “Cancer can be both emotionally and physically distressing for patients. Many of the patients that I’ve worked with have reported feeling socially isolated at times during and after treatment. Our psychosocial oncology team is excited to be launching a new group therapy program that provides a safe and supportive space for patients to process their experiences while learning from others who are going through something similar,” says Kathryn. “Participating in groups may help patients experience increased social connectedness, new perspectives on their situation, and increased sense of personal strength.”
Having a strong sense of community is so important to people going through cancer treatment. Kathryn adds: “Connecting with Lahey providers, meeting other patients and survivors, and seeing runners and walkers show up with a common goal to help those affected by cancer can make a difference for patients.”
Providing Emotional Support
As an oncology social worker, Mark provides mental health support and education to patients undergoing cancer treatment. “Cancer affects everyone,” says Mark. “So many people are impacted by this disease in some way, and everyone has different needs depending on where they are in life.” Fundraising for the Lahey 5K provides added support for patients and families, he adds. “Whether they need financial assistance paying bills or covering transportation costs to and from treatments, every little bit raised makes a difference and betters the patient experience.”
Like his colleague, Mark knows that having emotional support is essential to patients’ well-being, and even their disease. “An effective support system can change the outcome of someone’s treatment” he says. “Cancer is a rollercoaster for every single patient, whether they have to accept a recent diagnosis, manage survivorship, or face mortality. My role is to assist patients through this emotionally difficult time.”