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Preventing Poor Outcomes: Early Cancer Detection Is Vital, Doctors Say, but Barriers — Both Financial and Mental — Often Get in the Way

Erin Perejda, a licensed clinical social worker who offers counseling and behavioral health support to cancer patients at Vail Health, said the roller coaster of emotions the Joneses felt is common.

“We need to normalize it,” Erin said. “It’s OK to be fearful about going in for these scans and these procedures… I think it’s really common. They are not alone in that fear.”

Since fear and anxiety are common whenever the word “cancer” pops up at a doctor’s office, Erin said it’s important that people surround themselves with supportive people who can help encourage them to overcome those emotions so that they don’t become chronic or debilitating.

Sarah Roberts, another cancer-care focused social worker from Vail Health, said it’s important for people experiencing a choice similar to the Joneses to remind themselves that “the earlier the detection, the better the outcome.”

When approaching any screening for cancer, licensed professional counselor Kristi Grems said it’s important for people to remember that they have control and that every case of cancer is unique.

“Remembering and reminding yourself that you are your own person and your friends’ and families’ stories with cancer are not yours” is important, she said, while adding that their negative outcomes are not necessarily going to become yours.

Since there is a strong focus on making cancer care plans that are individualized to each patient, Vail Health nurse navigator Lindy Owens reiterated that statistics and other people’s outcomes do not correlate to any one person’s success. She said people should always be optimistic.

“There’s no reason to believe that it’s not going to be a positive outcome. That helps a lot,” she said. “That’s not to say they walk through the door and they don’t have anxiety when they get here, but I think that makes it better.”

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