(WJBF) – Augusta, GA
Remission, no evidence of disease, a clean scan, all signs that a cancer patient is ready to turn the page on what may be the toughest chapter in their life. And while the patient is the one writing his/her own story, they will never be alone on their journey thanks to a lady whose mission is to show these patients what survivorship is all about.
“My job is to serve as the anchor for each cancer patient in the Georgia Cancer Center’s Survivorship Program,” said Catrena Santana, coordinator for the Survivorship Program. “The care plan they receive is designed to help them sleep a little easier at night. We know a cancer diagnosis changes the patient’s life.”
While the cancer patient is the one who went through chemotherapy, radiation, surgery or some combination of all three, there are responsibilities for each person in their support circle. Sometimes family members and friends feel a big responsibility to know all they can about the cancer diagnosis. In fact, they’ll use internet resources to understand what the patient went through and what support they’ll need now that their treatment has ended.
“What can happen during their treatment is the patients get overwhelmed with the amount of information there doctor is telling them on top of dealing with their cancer diagnosis,” Santana said. “They can give share their care plan with a family member, a friend or their primary care doctor to make sure they understand any lifestyle changes they need to make after treatment.”
Cancer Survivorship is more than surviving cancer. It starts from the time of diagnosis, continues after treatment and includes individuals who experience cancer as well as family, friends and caregivers.As a result of advances in cancer to include detection, diagnosis and treatment , more people than ever are surviving the disease. Because of this survivorship is no recognized as an important aspect in overall cancer care.
Also included in the care plan are several topics including, living a healthy lifestyle, how to handle emotional needs after treatment, and long term effects of medications taken during treatment.
“I love meeting with these patients,” Santana said. “I’ve gotten lots of hugs, some tears of joy, and a lot of smiles. It makes me feel great and like I’ve done my job well.”
Click here to learn more about the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University and available treatment options.