By Southwester Staff

Thelma D. Jones; Courtesy of Author

Are you struggling with one or more chronic diseases? Do you know the difference between a chronic illness and an acute disease? Would you like help in managing the challenges of your chronic illness? 

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, the District of Columbia Department of Health (D.C. Health) would like you to consider participating in their free workshops through their popular Living Well Self-Management Programs. 

An evidenced-based program originally developed at Stanford University, these virtual workshops are two and half hours per week for seven weeks, and are designed for District residents with one or more ongoing health conditions. The workshops curriculum includes Diabetes Self-Management Program (DSMP), Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP), and Cancer: Thriving and Surviving (CTS).  

Completing the training on a full scholarship, SW civic leader and cancer survivor Thelma Jones of the Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Fund has been a certified instructor in both CDSMP and CTS since August 2018. Jones’ training and 13-year experience living with a chronic disease inspired her to reach out to District residents, namely her SW neighbors and friends – especially given the documented rate of cancer in the community. Jones said that she also feels that with the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, participation in the program would be invaluable and life changing. 

The CTS workshop was developed specifically for cancer survivors and anyone who has been a caregiver for someone with cancer. The workshop provides those affected by cancer with tools they need to live a healthier life. It focuses on your personal choice, which means you work on what you want to work on; it is empowering and highly interactive, and is administered throughout the city and the country. 

Through weekly sessions, CTS provides support for continuing normal daily activities and dealing with the emotions that a cancer diagnosis may bring about while reminding survivors that no one should travel their cancer journey alone. Both those who have completed their cancer journey, no matter how long ago, and others who have been, or are a caregiver for someone with cancer, will benefit from and enjoy this workshop. 

Stanford University research on this program indicates that people who participate in this program experience improvements in exercise, symptom management, communication with doctors, general health improvements, and fatigue. Topics in the workshop include using your mind, healthy eating, understanding emotions, breathing techniques, medications, working with health professionals, decision-making, problem-solving, physical activity, action planning, sleep, communication, and weight management. 

Instructor Jones said she wants to see more of these benefits enjoyed by her SW neighbors and friends, and remind the community that CTS is offered virtually at no charge but is limited to a class size of 10. The small class size helps to ensure participants receive adequate individual attention and the opportunity to share ideas and experiences. 

Following the second session, participants will receive a “Living A Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions” workbook and, upon completion of the seven-week workshop, each participant will receive a relaxation CD and a Certificate of Completion. Equally important, participants will develop a relationship with Jones, which will enable them to reach out to her for additional support beyond the workshop. 

Jones has taught both CDSMP and CTS workshops throughout the city since 2018 as one of the few D.C. Health Living Well Self-Management Programs peer leaders,bringing the added experience of a cancer survivor. In 2019, Jones was recognized by the D.C. Hospital Association for her advocacy efforts and as a DC Health chronic disease peer leader.

“Let’s enjoy the benefits and take full advantage of this empowering and free workshop,”  encouraged Jones. “You’ll not only thank me later for completing the workshop, but also help spread the words to others!” 

For more information on registering for an upcoming CTS, DSMP, or CDSMP workshop, please contact Riana Buford at (202) 442-5910. 

Thelma D. Jones contributed to this article.

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