Working with Trauma during the Cancer Continuum

Why Trauma Matters

Trauma is in the room

Undocumented cancer patients survive in the U.S by living in the shadows, and hiding their status.  Before a patient lets you examine him, he must be sure that becoming visible to you will not cost him his freedom. 

Watch Dr. Capo explain the impact of trauma on the patient-doctor relationship. 

An example of pre-migration trauma

Tales from El Salvador - Anonymous
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Distrust in the 

Doctor-Patient Relationship

When "no shows" mean something more

Going through the steps to determine cancer type, location, and staging is a long process 

filled with lab work, diagnostic testing and multiple visits.


Listen to Dr. Cholankeril navigate the distrust undocumented cancer patients experience when working with healthcare institutions. 

Basic Techniques in Trauma-Informed Care

The Undocumented Patient Lens

Cancer is a difficult experience which can be complicated by traumatic events, whether past or present.  Before designing a treatment plan, you should know how your patient has coped with distrust and fear of deportation.  

Following these basic principles of trauma-informed care allows your patient to become an active participant in her healing. With the patient as a participant, you are able to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction. 

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Ravi, A. & Little, V. (2017). Providing Trauma-Informed Care.  American family physician, 95 (10), 655

-Mia McKenzie

Allyship is not an identity—it is a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups.