Many important causes are observed in the month of October, but perhaps the most widely acknowledged is Breast Cancer Awareness. At the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis, we care for patients dealing with a wide variety of medical conditions, including breast cancer. Using our organization’s signature standard of care, there are some specific ways we look after those dealing with this illness through our Advanced Illness Management (AIM) program.
One of the ways our program addresses the needs of breast cancer patients is by focusing on symptom management for chemotherapy treatments, which can be painful and difficult to endure. Currently, the majority of the VNA’s breast cancer patients are women dealing with metastatic cancer, which is a recurrent cancer that has appeared at another site within the body and is more difficult to treat. With the multitude of symptoms from those chemotherapy and radiation treatments, breast cancer patients often don’t feel well enough to make a trip to the doctor’s office. To combat this issue, we work with different oncology groups at major hospitals who’ve screened patients for symptoms that need special care.
Director of our Advanced Illness Management program, Deb Jeffrey, offers some insight: “It’s really hard for people to get out to see a doctor when they don’t feel well, so we’ve been trying to reach out to oncologists to let them know we’re available to go into the patients’ homes to help manage treatment.”
Beyond medical care, the VNA offers spiritual care and social workers to counsel patients and their families through their illnesses - a critical, yet often overlooked part of the medical care process. By working in this collaborative way, we’re able to help provide care to a wider population of patients in the Greater St. Louis area. When it comes to coping with a breast cancer diagnosis, Deb Jeffrey, DNP, says, “it’s a life change and it can be difficult to manage on one’s own. So, we’ve found that it’s really worthwhile to have these supportive services available to people.”
The value of preventative care is incontestable, and studies suggest that mammogram screenings are detecting cancer at critical points of development, within a prime window of curability. Whether or not breast cancer runs in one’s family, women of childbearing age should be screened to detect any possible indications of cancer and, if necessary, begin treatment as soon as possible.
For more information about our Advanced Illness Management program, visit https://www.vnastl.com/aim-information.