Survivorship Program for Cancer Patients
Cancer Patients’ Feedback Helps Establish Survivorship ProgramIn April 2005, Kingsley Jack was diagnosed with stage 2 invasive ductal breast cancer and subsequently underwent six months of treatments. "When you get a diagnosis like mine, you go into warrior mode," said Kingsley. "I had no family history of breast cancer, and it was shocking to realize I had no control over its recurrence."
Thanks to earlier diagnoses and more effective treatments, more than 85 percent of breast cancer patients will survive their disease, so the need for ongoing care is enormous. Kingsley appreciated the care and attention provided by her medical team at PAMF. "The emotional journey following treatment was a lot tougher than I had expected," she said. "While friends and family were celebrating the end of treatment, a sense of vulnerability replaced my warrior mode and a fear of recurrence haunted me."
In early 2006, Kingsley was invited to participate in a panel discussion with four other PAMF breast cancer patients to discuss their experiences, and all agreed that they felt "abandoned" at the end of their treatment plans. In response, Rosemary Maresca, a registered nurse and now retired PAMF breast health educator, and Theresa Frei, former director of clinical operations at PAMF, established the Survivorship Treatment Plan Committee, recruiting PAMF patients who had survived either prostate cancer or breast cancer– including Kingsley – to explore strategies for creating an ongoing wellness plan.
The committee and other members of PAMF's cancer care community developed guidelines for a new survivorship program, which was officially launched in April 2008.
PAMF patients who have survived breast cancer or prostate cancer now receive a written summary detailing their diagnosis and treatment, and outlining recommendations for follow-up care and services. "We now have a dedicated nutritionist and licensed social worker available free of charge for our cancer patients," said Jana Waldorph, R.N., a former PAMF breast health educator who served on the committee.
Looking back, Kingsley still finds many reasons to be thankful. "I am most grateful for the reconnection of my family," she said. "My diagnosis frightened all of us, and my daughters and ex-husband all came together to support me. Everyone had a role to play, and the experience solidified the foundation of our family. There are many silver linings in my experience with breast cancer, and they are all about relationships."
When Kingsley made her annual contribution to PAMF in 2007, she dedicated her gift to Theresa Frei and the Survivorship Treatment Plan Committee. "It's amazing how the course of your life can change in a moment's notice," she said. "People in our community need to realize that based on statistics alone, it's very likely that the life of someone you love will be affected by cancer. At PAMF, I felt supported, confident and heard, so why wouldn't I want to give?"
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