A survivor by dictionary definition is a person who survives — one who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship or setbacks. This is why, at the W. Temple Webber Cancer Center at CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System, a person becomes a cancer survivor upon diagnosis, not when the treatment is completed. “It isn’t always about finishing, it is about living,” explains Yolanda Bone, DNP, RN, ARNP, FNP-BC, nurse practitioner and survivorship program manager at the W. Temple Webber Cancer Center. “Every new day results in a cancer patient being a survivor.”
CHRISTUS St. Michael offers a survivorship program to help patients prepare for and achieve a higher quality of life while fighting cancer. When patients are first diagnosed with cancer, their physical, psychosocial, nutritional and other needs are identified when treatment is first initiated to keep the patient in optimal health during and after treatments. Once needs are outlined, Yolanda can direct patients to appropriate resources to meet those needs. Whether the survivor needs physical therapy at the CHRISTUS St. Michael Outpatient Rehabilitation Center or nutritional counseling with a dietitian, focusing on being healthy in the beginning will allow for more strength and endurance through the continuum of cancer care.
Compassion, Resources and Support
Lung cancer survivor Tammy Stuart is currently undergoing treatment for small cell carcinoma. Side effects from her aggressive treatment have included weakness, balance issues and neuropathy. As part of the survivorship program, Yolanda referred Tammy to the Oncology Rehabilitation Program at the CHRISTUS St. Michael Outpatient Rehabilitation Center for balance and hand therapy.
“The therapist and staff at the Outpatient Rehabilitation Center have been wonderful,” Tammy says. “The therapy helped tremendously! Plus, seeing my improvements physically encouraged me and lifted my spirits.”
Yolanda also provides patients and their primary care providers a Survivorship Care Plan. The care plan includes a summary of treatment so both understand the history, including diagnosis stage, treatments and potential ongoing side effects.
“Yolanda has called and checked on me, and I’ve called her with questions, concerns or if I’ve needed blood transfusions,” shares Tammy. “Yolanda and the entire team, including the chemo and radiation staff in the cancer center and the therapists at outpatient rehab, all do an amazing job. They certainly don’t let you go on this journey alone.”