Georgia's Online Cancer Information Center

Complete cancer care for the whole person

10/04/2021, Rome News Tribune

This October, Harbin Clinic shares an inside look at complete cancer care. A cancer diagnosis can be one of the most difficult journeys a patient may ever face. But it is not a journey they will face alone. Starting with a diagnosis, Harbin doctors work with patients and each other for the most effective, comprehensive care possible.

The Harbin Clinic Cancer Center is comprised of medical and radiation oncologists who work alongside general surgeons, radiologists, cardiologists and numerous other specialists to provide expert cancer care. By performing high-quality routine screenings, advanced diagnostics, and procedures by board-certified surgeons, the team at the Harbin Clinic Cancer Center works collaboratively to deliver complete cancer care for Northwest Georgia cancer patients. Radiation oncologist Dr. Matthew Mumber (pictured left) shares an essential aspect of cancer care that focuses on the emotional and mental health of patients.

“A cancer diagnosis often puts people into a fight or flight,” Dr. Mumber, explained, “Health problems bring up unresolved emotional issues.” He went on to describe how discussions about loss or trauma often resurface as he meets with people to craft their personalized treatment plan.

Dr. Mumber welcomes these conversations and has an interest in integrative oncology where complementary therapies are encouraged with medical treatment. He wants to know the whole person behind the diagnosis so that he can give the best, most effective care possible.

Recalling the “straw that broke the camel’s back” analogy, he expressed a desire to help remove the small stressors or “other straws” weighing patients down.

One way to begin “removing small straws” is to build trust. Dr. Mumber sees his relationship with patients as part of treatment, not separate from it. He begins by opening up about himself and being vulnerable with patients on a human level, not just an intellectual one. Relationships with the medical professionals, he argued, should add rest and confidence to the journey rather than anxiety or fear. Being “human” and bringing comfort to patients through connection adds therapeutic value that is often overlooked.

But Dr. Mumber also pointed out ways patients can “remove their own small straws” and play a role in the healing process. “Patients can also add value and relieve stress in their healing,” he explained. He shares with patients a set of tools for dealing with anxiety, sleep health, etc. when safe and effective.

Some examples he listed included: gratitude journaling, embracing an appropriate form of exercise, spending time outside, helping patients pay attention to their breathing patterns. Simple, daily practices like these can help patients find joy and therapeutic value in themselves.

But getting to know a patient and all that they are facing is not the only way Harbin Clinic works toward comprehensive care. Beginning in 2003 a group of Harbin Clinic physicians, from multiple specialities and practices, began meeting weekly to discuss lung cancer patient cases and treatment options in detail. These conversations later grew to include all cancer cases and the specialties working them.

Even as COVID19 threatened to halt in-person meetings, the Friday morning conferences immediately shifted to a virtual platform. According to Dr. Mumber, these conferences drastically improve the quality and efficiency of patient care by allowing multiple specialties and backgrounds to discuss types of care in real-time.

From the multi-specialty conferences to individually crafted, integrative treatment plans, Harbin Clinic is helping cancer patients live life to the full. Even with the difficult circumstances of COVID, Harbin Clinic is for you, and with you in your most difficult seasons.

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Advancing Cancer Care through Partnerships and Innovation

Georgia CORE is a statewide nonprofit that leverages partnerships and innovation to attract more clinical trials, increase research, and promote education and early detection to improve cancer care for Georgians in rural, urban, and suburban communities across the state.