KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN —Care for women with breast cancer has made tremendous strides over the past decade and that includes guidance on how to move forward with life after treatment. One of the most beneficial tools provided to breast cancer patients at the West Michigan Cancer Center & Institute for Blood Disorders (WMCC) is a survivorship care plan.

“When a woman completes treatment at WMCC, she will receive a comprehensive survivorship care plan within six months,” said Becky Jones, ANP-BC, and WMCC Nurse Practitioner. “Her primary care provider will also receive a treatment summary and a customized survivorship care plan.”

The survivorship care plan provides the patient with a summary of their care, from diagnosis through treatment, and contact information for their treatment team. Information on long-term side effects related to treatment is included in the plan, along with specific recommendations to help the patient live with, through and beyond cancer.

“Patients need to know how often to see their oncologist and what to look for between appointments,” added Jones. “There is always concern about the cancer coming back and our survivorship care plan addresses that with strategies to help them prevent and detect a cancer recurrence or a new cancer.”

There is also detailed information to help survivors handle the emotional toll that a cancer diagnosis often brings.  “The survivorship care plan includes information to identify and cope with fear, depression & anxiety.  It also offers guidance about lifestyle choices—diet, exercise and weight management in survivorship.”

Support for WMCC’s breast cancer survivorship care plans is made possible through a grant from Susan G. Komen Michigan.