Patient and Family and Support Programs

Individual Counseling/Therapy | Suffering is Optional | Massage Therapy   Acupuncture | BiofeedbackExercise for Energy | WeCARE!™
Caregiver Education and Navigation WorkshopsYoga for Patients and Survivors
Deep Relaxation for Patients, Survivors & Caregivers | "Look Good, Feel Better"® 
 Healing ArtsQuality of Life Care Program
 Grief Support | Renee’s Place | Kick Nicotine

Study after study confirms that support programs play an important role in beating cancer.  Which is why we offer a variety of programs at no cost to patients.

Our goal is to improve the quality of life not only for the patient, but also for the family and the caregiver. 

This approach addresses social, psychological, emotional, and functional needs before, during and after the course of treatment. We use an integrated, whole-person approach that addresses the social, emotional, and functional aspects of a patient's cancer journey to improve the quality of life for the patient, the family and the caregiver.

Individual Counseling/Therapy

A cancer diagnosis can add stress to anyone’s life. Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center offers free individual therapy with a licensed psychologist specializing in oncology. This service is offered to patients, survivors and caregivers. Therapy can often help reduce depression, anxiety and pain, while simultaneously increasing healthy behaviors such as better nutrition, exercise and sleep. 

Contact Kirk Ditterich, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist, (530) 582-8207, or

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Suffering is Optional

Suffering is optional is a six-session workshop that focuses on mindfulness, short meditations and readings. Through mindfulness and meditation, we become aware of how our thoughts direct our feelings and, in turn, our immune system. Experience calmness, a sense of well-being, and your own inner resources.

Contact Lynelle Tyler, PsyD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, (530) 582-6367, or

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Massage Therapy

This therapy is provided to cancer patients to help with fatigue, anxiety and some treatment side effects, such as nausea. In a calm setting, cancer patients can enjoy a peaceful, quiet reprieve, feel more connected with body, mind and spirit, feel relaxed and comfortable, and experience improved sleep and a greater sense of well being. Massage therapy for active cancer patients is free of charge. Survivors can enjoy 3 free massages and then receive discounted sessions. Discounts are also available to caregivers.

Contact Polly Triplat, CMT, Oncology Massage Therapist, (530) 412-0774, or

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Acupuncture provides a holistic perspective for patients at the cancer center. Through the practice of both acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, this program offers a complementary approach to help manage the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation and alleviate some of the dis-ease and stress, both physical and emotional, that cancer patients experience. Group treatments are available weekly from 5-7 PM or by appointment.

Contact Tyler Lapkin, L.Ac, Licensed Acpuncturist, (530) 414-0394, or

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Biofeedback trains the patient in relaxation, mindfulness and coherence and teaches self-regulation skills which can relieve and ease chronic pain, reduce stress and anxiety and increase relaxation. Precise instruments measure physiological activity such as heart function, breathing, muscle activity and skin temperature and accurately “feed back” the information on a computer screen. What we can see, we can change.

Contact Linda MacKenzie, RN, BCB, Biofeedback Therapist, (530) 386-6731, or

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Exercise for Energy- Classes available in Truckee and Incline Village

Specially designed for current and recovering cancer patients, this ongoing class offers guidance, support and useful tools to maintain health and wellness. The class incorporates strengthening, stretching, breathing, balance, cardio, wellness education, nutrition and cooking demonstrations and massage. All classes are supportive, medically-managed and taught by health professionals, and will give you the tools you need in a supervised environment.

Contact Michelle Larson, MPT, CLT-LANA, Rehab Services Director, (530) 587-3769, or

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WeCARE!™ Peer Navigator Program

The WeCARE!™ Community-Based Cancer Peer Navigator program provides special support on an individual basis. This program matches newly diagnosed breast and prostate cancer patients with trained cancer survivors. The WeCARE!™ program is available to any newly diagnosed cancer patient, regardless of where the patient receives treatment.

Peer navigators are breast cancer or prostate cancer survivors who have been trained to be “coaches” providing information on  disease and treatment options, and to be a resource for patient and family. They are also trained to assist with problem-solving and provide coping strategies. If desired, a peer navigator can accompany the patient to doctor’s visit or treatments. 

Contact Ann Ajari, MSW, Medical Social Worker, (530) 582-6367, or

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Caregiver Education and Navigation Workshops

Supporting your loved ones through cancer can be a difficult and confusing experience. Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center understands that an educated and supported caregiver is a powerful force in the fight against cancer. This workshop covers topics such as navigating billing and insurance, proper nutrition and whole body wellness. 

Contact Kirk Ditterich, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist, (530) 582-8207, or

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Yoga for Patients and Survivors

A combination of yoga postures, breathing techniques and meditation, this gentle class helps students relieve stress, gain greater body awareness, and strengthen from the inside out. Students are encouraged to work at their own level to improve physical, emotional and mental health throughout treatment and recovery. No experience necessary, appropriate for all levels. 

Contact Kellee Rich, E-RYT, BA, Certified Yoga Instructor, (530) 587-3769, or

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Deep Relaxation for Patients, Survivors & Caregivers

Let go of tension in your body and your mind and learn to visualize yourself in optimal health. Class includes easy, gentle stretching, followed by a fully guided meditation called Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep), where you take a journey through your body to experience deep relaxation and healing. No experience necessary, appropriate for all levels.

Contact Kellee Rich, E-RYT, BA, Certified Yoga Instructor, (530) 587-3769, or

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“Look Good, Feel Better”® Program 

This program is designed to help women overcome the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment. Expert local estheticians, in collaboration with the American Cancer Society, offer this program monthly. Needed supplies must be ordered, so please be sure to register in advance.

Contact Ashley Connor, Receptionist, (530) 582-6373, or

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Healing Arts

This Interactive support program uses art and creative writing as tools for healing. This is an opportunity to identify and explore feelings related to diagnosis and treatment and to help alleviate stress. This service is provided by a licensed therapist. Creative Wellness groups are offered in the evenings.

Contact Kirk Ditterich, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist, (530) 582-8207, or

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Quality of Life Care Program

Quality of Life Care (palliative care) is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. This specialized care is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness, whatever the diagnosis.

The goal of Quality of Life Care is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Care is provided by a team of physicians, nurses and other specialists who work with the patient’s other physicians as an extra layer of support. Quality of Life Care is appropriate at any age and any stage of serious illness, and can be provided together with curative treatment by a Quality of Life physician.

  • Helps to provide the best possible quality of life for a patient and their family
  • Helps patients and families manage the pain, symptoms and stress of serious illness
  • Is in partnership with the patient, medical specialists and the patient’s family
  • Is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment
  • Provides an extra layer of support for families and patients with serious illness

For more information, contact Anna Antonowich, MSN, FNP-BC, OCN, Nurse Practitioner, at (530) 582-6452, or

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Grief Support

Tahoe Forest Hospice Services offers a Grief Support Group in a safe and supportive environment. We’ll help you develop insight in how to endure the loss of a loved one, ease the burden of grieving alone, and offer skills for adjusting to a new life situation. Group meetings are free of charge and open to the community.

Contact Chelsea Roth, LCSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Hospice, (530) 582-6575, or

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Renee’s Place

Understanding the loss of someone close and getting beyond trauma and grief is very difficult for anyone—especially for young people. The Renee’s Place program gently guides children, teens and families through the grieving process. A generous collection of books, videos, and resource materials are available in your local school and public library. The program also provides trained volunteers who offer compassionate bereavement support in a support group or one on one environment.

Contact Chelsea Roth, LCSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Hospice, (530) 582-6575, or

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Kick Nicotine

In this series of workshops, trained clinical psychologists, nutritionists, pharmacists and clinicians will guide you through the process of kicking the habit. Free carbon monoxide testing, relapse prevention support and strategies, and different techniques to replace nicotine cravings.

Contact Kirk Ditterich, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist, (530) 582-8207, or

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Offering Varian Trubeam

UC Davis Affilate

Commission on Cancer Accredited Program