In 1974 a small group of physicians seeking to dispel the myth that community physicians were uninterested in and incapable of participation in state-of-the-art cancer care came together to form the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC). ACCC was born to give oncology practitioners in the community a voice in the national oncology forum and it would become the mechanism through which clinical protocols and other oncology standards of care were developed and disseminated to community cancer programs across the nation. ACCC promotes the entire continuum of quality cancer care for both patients and communities.
Most recently, Faye Flemming, RN, BSN, OCN, member of ACCC, created Nicole’s Oncofertility Toolkit to help facilitate the development of a formalized oncofertility program in community cancer centers. Faye initiated the project as a direct result of the pain and suffering her 28year old newly married niece, Nicole, endured when her oncology team failed to address her oncofertility needs immediately after diagnosis. Ultimately, Nicole’s fertility needs were recognized, but it wasn’t until months later after she found an oncology provider that was equipped with the tools, resources and knowledge to facilitate this. It also took persistence on Nicole’s part to seek out a cancer care team that would ensure she had fertility options prior to undergoing fertility impairing treatment.
Nicole’s Oncofertility Toolkit is a resource for both patients and healthcare professionals. It provides each with general information (statistics, cost, procedures, assessment), tools for establishing a program and resources for fertility preservation information so that both the provider and the patient are well informed. According to Faye, “Many cancer patients experience unnecessary emotional turmoil due to a lack of attention, knowledge, support, resources, planning and preparation related to oncofertility issues and both the providers and payers are to blame.” Therefore, this toolkit was created to empower both patients and providers to take control of the fertility options available to men, women and children.
In a community-based setting, it can be challenging to meet the fertility needs of cancer patients, but with the addition of Nicole’s Oncofertility Toolkit, it opens up a much needed dialogue about oncofertility, increasing the likelihood that fertility will be addressed at diagnosis in age appropriate patients.