The Cancer Residency for Spiritual Caregivers is an intensive, four-day group immersion experience, supported by private funds and donations and offered at no cost to the participants. Eight individuals from the local community are selected and invited to participate in learning about cancer, from diagnosis and treatment to palliative care and death. It is both didactic and experiential with particular emphasis on treating the whole person–-body, mind and spirit.
The curriculum is designed over the four day course of the Residency to have the cumulative effect of drawing the participant from an intellectual understanding of “Cancer 101,” into a transformative encounter with real people, who struggle to live fully and meaningfully while being treated for cancer.
Residents have an opportunity to observe a unique type of cancer surgery performed by a nationally renown surgeon, Paul Sugarbaker, MD. The experience of surgery is followed by a guided meditation on loss and death and a silent visit to the morgue. It concludes with a theological reflection on the meaning of suffering. In symbolically closing the circle of the journey from diagnosis to death, the participant is invited to reflect on his or her own mortality.
The highlight of the final day is the “Transitions Panel–-Palliative Care at End of Life,” bringing together an interdisciplinary team: hospice, psycho-social counseling, spiritual care, complementary modalities (Reiki, Reflexology, Therapeutic Massage, Aromatherapy, etc.) and bereavement counseling. This allows the resident to engage in an open dialogue about the critical importance of the relief of suffering at the end of life.
Finally, participants engage in a group brain-storming exercise, to help them begin to formulate a plan for bringing this new knowledge and understanding back to the individual's community to help teach others about cancer.
The program is offered in February and November. Applications are available by calling 202-877-5333, or by sending an email to Linda G. Fischer, Chaplain, WCI: email@example.com .
The Cancer Residency is an outreach effort of the Department of Spiritual Care in cooperation with Washington Cancer Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. It is an intensive four-day small group immersion experience, supported by private funds and donations, and constructed to be educational, experiential, process-driven and transformative. The program focuses on how living with cancer affects the whole person–-body, mind and spirit.