Cancer rehab program helps survivors take back their lives

By KBJR News 1

March 21, 2014 Updated Mar 21, 2014 at 9:39 PM CDT

Superior, WI (NNCNOW.com) - A person's battle with cancer often continues long after they enter remission. From the pain that comes after cancer treatments to emotional wounds, a survivor can be cancer free while still dealing with after effects for years.

The Survivorship Training and Rehabilitation Program (STAR) at Essentia Health is helping them take back their lives.

Rehab Coordinator, Joan Jeanetta, helped bring the program to Essentia after battling breast cancer herself.

"[I had] breast cancer followed by surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and medication, which I'm still on," said Jeanetta, "Those side effects from those treatments alone result in many physical and psychosocial needs from our patients."

The STAR program helps survivors with everything that comes after cancer, both physical and emotional.

"I remember my last day of radiation. I came home. I just cried my eyes out," said breast cancer survivor and STAR participant, Beth Schultz.

Schultz underwent chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and the removal of 26 of her lymph nodes. The removal of the lymph nodes caused swelling due to a buildup of fluid in the part of the body where they were removed.

Since starting the STAR program three years ago, she says she's been doing much better.

"That's one thing about cancer survival that I think the STAR program is really helpful in facilitating education in," said Essentia Health physical therapist, Jennifer Farrell, "How do you continue healing as a survivor?"

Two hundred STAR providers are now certified in three different Midwest states: Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota.

Essentia Health is holding a Cancer Center Survivors Conference Saturday, March 22 at the DECC. The conference will provide free resources to cancer survivors. Registration for this year is closed.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.