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Hedda Matza-Haughton, LCSW, as a cancer survivor, a family member of cancer survivors, and as a healthcare professional, was very excited and honored to create a “Words Not Spoken” program that dealt with Cancer Survivorship beyond initial treatment. She shared on that day the following:

“My professional expertise, combined with my own personal experience allows me to share today some of the inner voices of the many cancer survivors who are faced with so many issues and emotions. When I say cancer survivors, I use the National Cancer Institute definition (see below), which includes family members, friends, and caregivers. My presentation on this topic is dedicated to all cancer survivors.” (October 2008)

October 3, 2008, the “Words Not Spoken” program on the topic of “Cancer Survivorship,” was presented as the keynote for the conference entitled, “21st Annual Concepts of Oncology/ Survivorship: Steps to Well Being, sponsored by the St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center/Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise, Idaho. Nurses, social workers, and other healthcare professionals attended this two day conference.

The improvisational drama part of “Words Not Spoken” was presented by a solo performance by Hedda Matza-Haughton, LCSW, followed by a question and answer discussion period of each of the characters portrayed. A guided interaction and discussion followed with the Director, the audience and the actors, which enhanced the audience’s knowledge about cancer survivorship, and provided education and prevention information. Hedda presented five different characters dealing with the issue of cancer survivorship. Each time “Words Not Spoken” is presented; different characters are portrayed to meet the needs of the sponsoring organization. The program was named “Words Not Spoken” to particularly emphasize the importance of talking more openly about issues and feelings that are often kept silent.

“Cancer Survivor Definition: An individual is considered a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis, through the balance of his or her life. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also impacted by the survivorship experience and are therefore included in this definition.” (NCI 2004)

The above definitions of Cancer Survivor by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Office of Cancer Survivorship was utilized in the symposium, “From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition” - An American Society of Clinical Oncology and Institute of Medicine Symposium(2005).This symposium on cancer survivorship focused on implementing the 10 recommendations to better service the cancer survivor after initial treatment, outlined in the Institute of Medicine’s(IOM) survivorship report. At the time of the report, there were 10 million adult cancer survivors living in the United States and the recommendations focused on all the issues affecting these survivors, both medical and psychosocial. The overall goal of these recommendations were to ensure that cancer survivors would be getting the specialized attention they need emphasizing quality, long term care approaches for cancer survivors.

The following are excerpts of some of the monologues presented in a solo performance by Hedda Matza- Haughton, LCSW, at the conference, emphasizing IOM’s broader definition of cancer survivor and sharing many of the physical and psychosocial issues and challenges:

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The following are excerpts from what the conference committee wrote about the WNS Cancer Survivorship Presentation:

“……Each of the characters in your performance provided a comprehensive array of issues affecting cancer survivors and laid a foundation for our other presenters. The characters that were portrayed were poignant, believable, and conveyed the multitude of physical and emotional issues faced by many cancer survivors, who often feel “lost in transition”.

Each of the characters you presented shared an array of important issues: the prostate cancer survivor who would not talk to his wife after the long term side effects of his treatment; the breast cancer patient dealing with body image, fear of recurrence; the oncology nurse who wondered if she had done enough to help a man who had lung cancer, who was still smoking, and now facing a recurrence; the cervical cancer patient who felt that the long term side effects of treatment interfered with her relationship with her boyfriend; and the mother whose daughter had leukemia in her teens and was now facing the fact that her daughter might not be able to have children as a side effect of treatment.

The audience of nurses, social workers and other health care professionals seemed to appreciate the interactive nature of the presentation. ……..Many of the speakers who followed you made reference to your presentation and used your characters in “Words Not Spoken” to make an important point on the issue of cancer survivorship. Some specific comments from the audience in their evaluations included: “Very good!”, “Hedda was amazing, brought me to tears”, and “I really enjoyed the interactive session with Hedda.”

Click here to see the entire St. Luke’s letter from the conference committee (PDF)


Click here to contact Hedda about discussing and arranging for a presentation of WNS on Cancer Survivorship.



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