You’ve just received the dreaded news from your doctor—you have cancer. Now what?
The treatment you receive will depend on the type and stage of cancer you have and how far it has spread. Today, physicians rely on national guidelines to determine the best course of action to take with a particular cancer. Developed after years of research, these evidence-based “standards of care” have been proven to result in the most successful outcomes.
|Connie Duke, R.N., OCN|
Treatment could involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or targeted therapies. While some rare cancers require procedures offered only at major cancer centers like the Medical University of South Carolina Health System’s Hollings Cancer Center, most prescribed treatments are available locally at Beaufort Memorial Hospital and its Keyserling Cancer Center.
As an affiliate of MUSC Health, we are qualified to participate in leading-edge clinical trials, providing our patients with access to innovative treatment approaches that have the potential for an improved outcome when other cancer treatment options have been exhausted. Our current list of clinical trials covers a wide range of cancers, including lymphoma and breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers.
After receiving the diagnosis from the pathologist, your doctor may consult with a surgeon, medical oncologist or radiation oncologist—or all three—to develop your treatment plan. In some cases, Beaufort Memorial’s tumor board will review the findings. Our physicians may also consult directly with MUSC cancer specialists on the latest protocols and approaches for fighting the disease.
|Our cancer program offers a full range of services and compassionate care.|
Once the treatment plan is formulated, you’ll meet with the specialists performing the procedures. Our staff will create a calendar with the dates of treatment. At first glance, it can seem a little overwhelming. How are you going to make these appointments with all your work and family obligations? And how are you going to pay for everything?
Be aware that getting the right support services is as important as getting the right medical care. These may include nutrition counseling, support groups, patient navigators and financial assistance.
It’s important that you know what to expect and how to cope with the side effects of your treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Our clinical staff and oncology nurse specialists are uniquely trained to care for the needs of cancer patients and their families. They can provide you with tips on what to eat to ease your nausea or how to deal with the fatigue that often follows treatments.
Our staff, including nurse navigators, will help schedule your chemo and radiation therapy and appointments with your doctor and other oncology specialists. Our breast nurse navigator works one-on-one with patients facing breast health issues, providing support and help through the process from diagnosis to post-treatment follow-up.
Cancer treatment is multifaceted. It takes many health care professionals—from surgeons to physical therapists—to provide all the care a patient needs to battle this disease.
We’re always looking for ways to make the process easier. Our LifeFit Wellness Center offers a special exercise program designed to help breast cancer patients tolerate their treatment better, along with yoga instruction at support group meetings.
And then there’s the follow-up care.
Thrilled as you may be that your treatment is finally finished, you might find it difficult to return to your “normal” life. It can take awhile to recover. You may have a hard time doing things you once did easily. Or you may notice that others treat you differently. Your life has changed—and changed forever.
After treatment, you can now focus on things that can make you healthier. It’s time to face forward and find your new normal.
If you’re looking for quality care and treatment for cancer close to home, click here.
Connie Duke, R.N., OCN, is the cancer program director for Beaufort Memorial Hospital. She has more than 35 years of health care management experience, including directing oncology clinical operations. Before joining BMH in 2005, Duke was administrative director for St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center in Huntington, W.Va.