July 11, 2023

Cancer care for the body, mind, and spirit

Many people with cancer experience depression and anxiety. Mental health support is a key part of Kaiser Permanente cancer care.


That’s how Tom Deppe described his feelings on the day he learned he had the blood cancer called multiple myeloma.

“You hear cancer and you’re stunned,” Deppe said. “I’m (picturing) the worst vision of what chemotherapy could be and thinking, there’s no way in hell I can cope with this.”

Deppe’s personal doctor recognized that anxiety and depression. His doctor thought Deppe needed care for more than his physical condition. The doctor suggested Deppe see a behavioral health specialist. Moments later, Deppe was talking with a therapist.

“Tom has a lot of medical visits, like many people with cancer. He didn’t have time for therapy in a traditional behavioral health setting,” said psychologist Andrea Maikovich-Fong, PhD.

Kaiser Permanente Colorado created a program to help patients receive support. The program places behavioral health specialists in primary care. This makes scheduling easier. It’s one of several similar programs across Kaiser Permanente.

Emotional support when it’s needed most

“Many patients told me they probably never would have followed up if they had just been told to call a therapist. But in that moment, when they were willing to accept guidance, somebody showed up and was there for them,” said Dr. Maikovich-Fong.

Deppe struggled with depression for years before his cancer diagnosis. He credits therapy with helping him dig himself out of a “deep mental health hole.”

“It’s like talking to a friend who gives you good advice and incredible positive reinforcement,” he said. “I come out of my sessions feeling like a million bucks.”

Kaiser Permanente offers a range of options for mental health care. Members can use an online depression screening tool that can help determine if more support is needed.

Learn more about cancer care at Kaiser Permanente.