Program addresses mental health aspect of serious illness - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Program addresses mental health aspect of serious illness

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When a person is diagnosed with cancer, medical teams focus on finding ways to make them well again. What sometimes gets overlooked is the mental health aspect of an illness and how it impacts the family of the patient. Now, a D.C. hospital is looking at that issue and could be a model for the nation.

When 13-year-old Matthew Grossman was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor his mom, Jaime, remembers how Matthew's illness turned their family life upside down.

Somebody was in the hospital every night with Matthew. He never stayed alone. It was particularly tough on Matthew’s little brother.

That sort of crushing concern and conflict is common for families who face a major illness. Now, Medstar Georgetown University Hospital's Lombardi Cancer Center is taking an extra step to deal with it.

They've received a $75,000 grant from Hyundai Hope on Wheels. That's not unusual. What makes it unique is that the grant will be used to address psycho-social concerns.

A group will work to identity markers, early signs of stress. It's not just doctors doing the research. It's also social workers, patients, and parents.

Three years ago, Zoe Chen had a fever and a rash. In the emergency room, she heard her mom talking to the doctor.

Zoe learned she had leukemia. She says dealing with a family's stress can help a patient get well faster.

Zoe has finished her treatments and feels great. Matthew finished high school and is now a college student.

Both families are looking to the future, healthy, both in body and mind.

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