Perking up the PERC

The Cancer Center's Patient Education Resource Center gets a new and improved home


Lori Boylan, information resource assistant (left) and Ann Marie Scholten

Finding the right information can be tough, especially when it comes to something like researching cancer. A trip to the local library can lead you to books written years ago, before certain advances were made in cancer care. The Internet can be even worse, with an overload of information that may or may not be coming from a reliable source.

Your best bet? The Cancer Center’s Patient Education Resource Center gives patients easy access to our complete library of all things cancer. And now, thanks to a major renovation, the PERC Continue reading

Talking to Children About Your Cancer

A child’s world is disrupted when family resources are mobilized towards battling a parent’s cancer, and children can become confused or scared during the process. An area of concern and need for patients who are also parents is how to break the news of a cancer diagnosis and treatment to children in a way that is age-appropriate, informative, and most importantly, won’t generate undue amounts of stress in children.

One way that parents and families stay connected during the cancer treatment journey is through the resources at The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Patient Education Resource Center (PERC), a full-service library containing books and brochures on cancer, caregiving, coping and survivorship topics. The PERC has a number of resources available for parents explaining a cancer diagnosis to children.

The books on this comprehensive, age-specific and development-specific list are available through the PERC and can be found at your local library, Barnes and Noble or on If you can’t come to the PERC in person, click on the link to the book to display the closest libraries that have the book, as well as links to Amazon records.

Included are books for parents that contain expert advice about how to talk to children about your cancer, how children perceive and react to a parent’s cancer diagnosis, and how to support your children and keep your family strong during cancer treatment.

Sometimes families need additional support and guidance as they face cancer together. The Patient and Family Support Services staff at the U-M Cancer Center offers a variety of services to help ease the burden of cancer, including social work staff specially trained to work with children whose parents are undergoing cancer treatment.

We know that supporting patients emotionally is an important component of cancer treatment and our mission is to reduce the burden of cancer for all of our patients and families. Please share in the comments any advice you have for parents.

The PERC is a philanthropy-funded resource center for U-M cancer patients and families.

The Engaged Patient: 10 things you can do to take charge of your medical care

Rosemary Black insisted on a CT scan that led to an early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Rosemary Black insisted on a CT scan that led to an early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

The culture of medicine has changed: Gone are the days when doctors dispensed treatment with a paternalistic air. As medicine has advanced, patients have more choices about how they can approach their care. Combined with the vast amount of health information available on the Internet, patients are educating themselves and partnering with their physicians to make informed medical decisions.

Consider Rosemary Ireland Black’s story. She’s a tall, willowy woman, but her stomach suddenly started to bloat. She went to the doctor twice, and he said nothing was wrong. So she went back a third time and demanded a CT scan.

“He said, ‘What for?'” Ireland Black said, recalling her doctor’s skepticism. “And I looked at him and said, ‘Because I want one.'”

The scan revealed a suspicious spot on her pancreas, so her doctor referred her to a surgeon in metro Detroit. During an appointment with the surgeon, Ireland Black’s husband noticed the word “malignant” on one of his wife’s medical reports. Until this moment, the couple hadn’t realized they were dealing with pancreatic cancer.

Read the rest of this story in Thrive, the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s patient publication.

Read our librarian’s picks for the best online cancer resources

If you think you can trust the results of your latest Google search on cancer, click again. And again. And again.

It’s important to use trusted resources when it comes to your health or that of a loved one, but verifying a cancer website’s credentials is a multistep — and often time-consuming — process.

“You want to make sure that the information you find on the Internet has the same level of credibility as your physician,” says Ruti Volk, M.S.I., A.H.I.P., the University of Michigan Health System’s Patient Education librarian and former manager of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Patient Education Resource Center. “It’s important to check a website’s credentials, because if you base a decision on bad, inaccurate or outdated information, you can really cause yourself a lot of harm,” she says.

Volk, an award-winning medical librarian, shares her choices for the best online cancer resources so cancer patients, their family and friends can focus on what’s important: time together.

Read the rest of this story from our most recent issue of Thrive, the Cancer Center’s patient publication.