Paula Brozek, Great Bend, thought it was an “opportunity too good to pass up.” And she was right.
Brozek participated in the recent Cancer Transitions Program at St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center, which was cosponsored by the Midwest Cancer Alliance. St. Rose is an MCA member.
The six-session program is designed for a small group of cancer survivors making the transition from active treatment to post-treatment care. Seven people attended the local classes that focused on nutrition, exercise, dealing with treatment after-effects and how to organize medical records.
“Since I have been a cancer survivor, there have been a lot of educational opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Brozek said. “I want to take advantage of as many as I can. This transitions class was exceptional.”
Brozek underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer; her last treatment was almost a year ago. She viewed the transitions program as a way to help her deal with physical and emotional issues now that treatment is behind her.
“Having had cancer is something that sticks with you all the time,” Brozek explained. “You think about it every day. That is not to say it is weighing on me. It is just always there.
“So, anytime I can share my feelings with people who understand, it helps me,” she added, noting she is also a member of Touched by Cancer, the Heartland Cancer Center (HCC) support group, and Breast Friends in Hoisington.
Another Great Bend woman said she benefited from the transition program even though her last treatment was almost 20 years ago.
Dana Foss was treated for colon and breast cancer in 1994 but attended the classes in her role as the HCC support group facilitator.
“At first, I went because I thought I should,” Foss said. “But I got a lot out of it, even though I don’t fit the exact definition of the program. They brought up things I hadn’t thought about and the small group was conducive to good communications.”
Along with St. Rose and MCA, Susan Krigel, PhD, deserves credit for the program’s success, both Brozek and Foss said. Krigel, who presented the program, is a licensed psychologist for the MCA Behavioral Health Program.
“She allows people to feel at ease,” Foss said. “Even though this was by interactive TV, it was like Susan was in the room with us.”
Krigel noted that a cancer diagnosis is a life-altering event, in which the patient undergoes physical, psychological and social changes that can be difficult to process.
“Once active treatment is over, patients transition to getting on with the rest of their lives,” Krigel said. “It can be difficult to adjust to the ‘new normal’ and this program addresses those concerns. The whole point is to enhance the survivor’s quality of life.”
Several experts collaborated with Krigel, including Pam Kerns, physician assistant for Dr. Mark Fesen, oncologist at Heartland Cancer Center. Krigel noted that “health-care and other professionals can play an active role in helping patients adjust and grow through the cancer experience.
“The feedback we received from St. Rose was very favorable,” Krigel added. “We plan to offer the program a couple of times a year and we hope St. Rose will participate again.”