Shawn Nickel has seen the ups and downs of battling cancer. A Stage II breast cancer survivor, Shawn knew she needed continued care even after she fought through the disease. She found the help she needed at the Mercy Health – Perrysburg Cancer Center in their survivorship program.
The National Cancer Institution’s definition of survivorship says that “in cancer, survivorship focuses on the health and life of a person with cancer post-treatment, until the end of life. It covers the physical, psychosocial, and economic issues of cancer, beyond the diagnosis and treatment phases. Survivorship includes issues related to the ability to get health care and follow-up treatment, late effects of treatment, second cancers, and quality of life. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also considered part of the survivorship experience.”
Mercy Health was honored to be selected for a grant from the Ohio Department of Health to expand our cancer survivorship programming. As a result, the team developed a comprehensive survivorship care program and adapted evidence-based curriculum to deliver in survivorship education sessions.
“For many survivors, the end of treatment can be just as frightening as the time of diagnosis. Questions such as ‘how will I know if my cancer comes back,’ ‘how often will I see my oncologist’ and ‘what can I do to improve my health going forward’ are just a few of the questions that many survivors and their loved ones have,” says Amanda Dove, MSN, APRN, NP-C Survivorship Program Coordinator.
“This is why survivorship care has become such an integral part of cancer treatment,” she adds. “Survivorship care gives the oncology team a chance to address these questions, assess the broad range of physical and psychosocial issues associated with cancer specific treatment, and provide education and resources to aid in improving a survivor’s overall quality of life. I am excited to be a part of the survivorship program at Mercy Health and the positive impact it will have on the survivors in our community.”
During a survivorship visit, a Survivorship Program Coordinator will:
- Provide extensive education on possible physical and psychosocial long-term and late effects of treatment
- Go over signs/symptoms of recurrence
- Give guidance on diet, exercise and health promotion activities
- Review the Survivorship Care Plan, which is a document that lists all health care team members, cancer diagnosis information, genetic testing results, a treatment summary and the follow-up care plan. The patients primary care physician and all providers involved with the patient’s cancer treatment are sent a copy as well.
- Provide a list of community and national resources
- Perform a comprehensive review of systems and physical assessment to assess for both physical and psychological treatment related side effects
- Coordinate appropriate referrals to specialists and resources as indicated
“Amanda was wonderful and answered all of my questions, like ‘where do we go from here?’” Shawn shares. “She took everything and put it in perspective and helped me feel much better about my future. I could not be happier with all of the care I received at the Mercy Health – Perrysburg Cancer Center.”
With advancements in early-detection practices and treatments, the number of cancer survivors in the United States is continuing to grow, according to the American Cancer Society. As the number of survivors grow, as does the need for survivorship care. At Mercy Health, our oncology team is dedicated to providing these individuals with the patient specific care needed to improve quality of life after cancer.
“This experience has taught me to take each day as it comes and live life to the fullest,” Shawn says. “Do not take the little, everyday things for granted. I am so grateful for the amazing support I received from my family and friends. They helped me believe that I could beat this. Happy National Cancer Survivors Day to my fellow survivors!”
Learn more about other cancer services offered at Mercy Health.