After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Carolyn Boucher had to endure surgery, 16 rounds of chemotherapy and 25 radiation treatments.
It was tough, but she made it through. As a survivor, though, she faced a host of issues ranging from treatment side effects to stress that are unique to those who’ve lived through cancer.
Those patients can get help at a new clinic for cancer survivors slated to be unveiled at Greenville Health System’s Cancer Survivor Celebration on Sunday.
The Lifetimelinic is being touted as a one-stop shop where survivors can get medical care, counseling for anxiety, and fitness and nutrition counseling, among other services.
“The Lifetime Clinic is a great way to guarantee that survivors get the long-term expert care and screenings they need to help ensure that they thrive, not just survive,” said Dr. Mark O’Rourke, medical director of GHS’s Center for Integrative Oncology and Survivorship.
Officials said many cancer survivors don’t get the regular tests they need to screen for late effects and possible second cancers. The clinic will coordinate the medical team and ensure that follow-up testing and treatment is ordered, they said.
Care is covered by insurance and will be provided by an oncology nurse practitioner who can focus on a patient’s special needs, such as the fear that the disease will come back or that they will face long-term problems from the treatments.
“The Lifetime Clinic is a huge benefit to those cancer survivors who want the safety net of yearly oncologist visits but, even so, dreaded those visits because of the clinical setting and related stressors,” said LeAnn Perkins, a nurse practitioner at the clinic.
“In addition to monitoring oncology issues, we are here to help survivors be as healthy as they want to be and assist them in living long, cancer-free lives.”
The clinic is located at GHS’s Cancer Institute.
Bon Secours St. Francis Health System has been offering its STAR-certified survivorship program, which optimizes health during cancer treatment and recovery through therapies that focus on nutrition, exercise and spiritual care, since 2011, officials said.
As a patient in the pilot program for GHS’s lifetime clinic, Boucher, 71, found help living a healthier lifestyle as well as support.
“I go to yoga and exercise classes, plus there are other survivors in the classes, so it’s an opportunity to meet new friends,” said the retired school guidance counselor from Greenville.
“This covers all the gray area in between doctors visits,” she added. “I think of it as my health security blanket.”