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Survivorship Begins with Diagnosis

July 5, 2015
Joyce Myrick was diagnosed with fallopian tube cancer in the summer of 2014, and her journey to recovery had a difficult beginning. She was referred to a local hospital for chemotherapy, but her calls to schedule appointments went unanswered. “I asked my daughter, who’s a lawyer, to get involved so my treatment could begin,” she says. Losing her hair took an emotional toll also, prompting her daughter to suggest attending the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good Feel Better” lecture series. The series, which is held at GBMC, offers support and teaches cancer patients and their families about beauty techniques.

At the lecture, I was listening to another attendee talk about her positive experiences in GBMC’s Infusion Center and was just baffled. I thought that all cancer treatments were the same, that everyone had a hard time feeling cared for or getting the information they needed.
After the lecture, Mrs. Myrick spoke to Paul Celano, MD, a GBMC oncologist, about her treatment and immediately transitioned to GBMC. “It was an excellent experience from start to finish.”

Now cancer-free, one of Mrs. Myrick’s favorite aspects of care at GBMC is the Survivorship Program, which is designed to help cancer patients and their families navigate the changes and challenges that come with a diagnosis of and treatment for cancer. “The current accepted definition of survivorship is the process of living with, through and beyond cancer,” says Felicity Kirby, Oncology Nurse Coordinator for Oncology Support Services at GBMC. “Cancer survivorship begins at diagnosis and includes people who continue to have treatment to either reduce risk of recurrence or to manage chronic disease. It also includes their families.”

Joyce Merick, cancer-free, thriving and surviving!
According to the American Cancer Society, the number of people with a history of cancer in the United States has increased dramatically, from 3 million in 1971 to about 13.7 million in 2014. GBMC works to aid that population by providing supportive services such as rehabilitation, nutrition, counseling, palliation of symptoms and care coordination, among others. By using a Resource Guide provided at diagnosis, patients can organize all of the information they receive throughout their care, including education materials, treatments, medications, pain management, test result logs and support resource listings. Patients who complete treatment and transition to follow-up care are eligible to meet with Ms. Kirby to receive a customized treatment summary and care plan. Surveillance, screening, prevention of recurrence and new cancers, follow-up guidelines, risk reducing strategies, how recovery is going and more are reviewed during this visit.

“During my first appointment at GBMC, everything was handled for me,” Mrs. Myrick says. “I kept the packet they gave me when I started my treatment, and still use it to store my test results and information. Everyone is so kind and always there to answer my questions. The funny thing is that I rarely have problems because Felicity anticipates my needs before a problem can come up.”

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