HANCOCK — Local nurses, health educators and peer trainers will facilitate a series of workshops to help cancer survivors manage chronic symptoms like fatigue, pain and depression that can accompany completion of cancer treatment.
The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department will offer PATH, or Personal Action Toward Health, a series of six weekly workshops that help people learn to manage their own health conditions, in several locations across the Western Upper Peninsula to be determined depending on interest.
The health department seeks cancer survivors interested in participating, and volunteers who would like to be trained to become peer leaders to help facilitate the workshops. Peer trainers are not necessarily health professionals, but they should have the empathy, communications skills and personal experience to be effective with workshop attendees.
“PATH workshops empower participants to take an active role in managing their health,” registered nurse Barb Auten said. PATH groups meet once a week for six weeks. During the sessions, participants learn skills needed in the management of long-term health conditions in order to maintain and/or improve their ability to carry out activities of daily living. Family members and other supporters of those with a long-term health conditions are also encouraged to attend.
Topics covered include managing symptoms, relaxation and breathing techniques and improving communication with health care providers, family and friends. “PATH does not focus on specific illnesses,” Auten said. “It addresses the challenges common to many long-term illnesses, such as pain, fatigue, physical limitations and difficult emotions. Each week, participants create an action plan to accomplish a realistic, attainable goal.”
The health department sent a nurse and a health educator to Stanford University for a five-day master trainer program in chronic disease self-management to become PATH leaders and trainers for new peer leaders.
Residents of Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties who are interested in becoming a PATH peer leader or attending PATH workshops should call the health department at 906-482-7382, ext 189.