Breast Cancer Trial Participant Gives Back to St. Joe’s as Patient Adviser
Sandy Lymburner doesn’t like the term “survivor” in reference to her battle with breast cancer, but she accepts it graciously and gratefully. The 57-year-old Ann Arbor resident is four years cancer-free this September, and so far, she’s not only surviving – she is thriving.
She’s quick to credit her success to the team who took care of her at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Cancer Center.
“You feel like your core group of physicians has their arms around you, and are just taking you in, and are helping you all along the way. I’ve never felt that I’ve been a number or statistic,” she said, adding, “I just felt the care here was incredible, and I wanted to be able to share the good things with people within the hospital.”
Weeks after she was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in the right breast and lobular cancer in the left, Sandy opted for a double mastectomy in September 2014. She got her chemotherapy port the next month, fully expecting that was the next course of action.
But on the day of Sandy’s first scheduled chemotherapy session, Dr. Philip Stella – medical director of oncology at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, and a long-time friend of Sandy’s – suggested Sandy might be able to bypass chemotherapy altogether.
It wasn’t a question I wanted to ask. We were sitting with my Mom in her new assisted living facility having coffee and I was going to ask her if she wanted another cookie but instead blurted, “Mom, do you want to be buried or cremated?”
Perhaps I could have been more delicate. Perhaps I could have waited for another time. Perhaps I was insensitive. But the right time never comes for the tough questions. All my siblings were in town to help move my Mom into the new facility. This seemed as good a moment as any. Some say the ideal time for this conversation is before you turn 40 and your parents turn 70, whichever comes first. But that ship sailed for us a while ago. Mom is 86. It was now or never. Continue reading “Questions and Apertures”
This article was originally published on Sharecare.
Back in the 1930s, stomach (or gastric) cancer affected more people in the United States than any other type of cancer. Today, stomach cancer is way down the list of the country’s most common cancer diagnoses, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). What’s behind the decline?
Assorted lifestyle changes, says Anthony DeBenedet, MD, a gastroenterologist affiliated with Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Currently, there are approximately 26,240 people diagnosed with stomach cancer each year in the U.S. and about 10,800 people will die from it. Compared to other cancers, “stomach cancer isn’t common,” says Dr. DeBenedet. Indeed, the ACS reports that the number of people diagnosed with stomach cancer has gone down about 1.5 percent each year in the past decade, which is good news.
Prevention is Key
Patients have the best chance of recovering from stomach cancer when it’s caught early. But according to the National Cancer Institute, the disease is often diagnosed at an advanced stage when it still may be treated but is difficult to cure. That’s why it’s important to know what factors can help reduce the risk of a stomach cancer diagnosis in the first place.
Some factors associated with a higher risk of stomach cancer are outside your control, such as family history and genetics, as well as your ethnicity and sometimes where you live in the world. But there are other lifestyle factors that you can influence that are important to understand. Read on to learn more about what you can do to lower your risk.
St. Joseph Mercy Breast Imaging and Huron Valley Radiology, P.C. are offering low-cost 2D screening mammograms for $50 in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month on the following days:
Oct. 18, 2018 |Chelsea
CHELSEA — “Ashley” had been struggling with depression for a long time. Many people had suggested she seek help. Ashley had collected brochures, business cards and lots of phone numbers. She did not reach out to anyone.
One day, Ashley’s primary care physician referred her to Kathy Walz, LMSW, behavioral health services navigator at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea. True to form, Ashley did not call. But three days later, Walz called Ashley. Ashley met with Walz to talk about her options; they talked about how counseling could help and what it would be like for her. Ashley went on to receive the mental health care she needed. Months later, Walz asked Ashley why she finally decided to get care. “Because you called me,” she replied.
A behavioral health navigator is a licensed behavioral health clinician who helps connect people with services that are specific to their needs. Unlike a brochure or someone on the other end of a phone line, a navigator offers a “warm hand-off” for care, specific to the person’s needs and circumstances. Often times the navigator can work with someone to move past the issues that are keeping them from getting the care they need. The navigator’s services are free.
“St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea created a behavioral health services navigator position because we knew people were having a hard time accessing mental health resources and understanding what services were available. We developed the navigator to be embedded in the community. The navigator’s role is to connect people to what they need, based on their specific circumstances. To my knowledge, this is a unique position – especially for people who are not our patients,” said Reiley Curran, manager of community health improvement at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea.
The navigator collaborates with schools, primary care providers, and community-based organizations serving the poor. The position was created to support people who are struggling with mental health issues. This program is especially important for people who have a low income and live in rural areas. Currently, Walz has more than 50 referral sources she can choose from when selecting the appropriate route for someone, including psychiatrists, support groups, therapists, psychiatric RNs and more.
“In our rural area, there were no counselors available for people with low incomes. It is nice to have Kathy available, at our center, so we can make appointments for our clients to meet with her,” said Laura Seyfried, director of the Manchester Community Resource Center.
The Manchester Community Resource Center is one of many referring partner agencies who connect people with the navigator, Walz. People in need can be referred to Walz by a primary care physician, a community-based organization, a church, a school, a family member; anyone who recognizes a need. The service Walz is able to provide is warm, kind and personal; it is non-traditional. Walz accommodates the person in need by meeting them in a coffee shop, a park, a library, one of her multiple community-based offices – any place that is easily accessible and safe. Walz is mobile. She is able to use offices in Chelsea and Dexter, a private space in a Stockbridge school, a little spot above a resale shop in Grass Lake and a private area in Manchester.
Unlike traditional programs, Walz creates her services around the very specific needs she sees. “Each community can use me, as needed,” Walz said. “For example, we recognized that seniors were feeling isolated. So, we created a group just for them to get together. We also saw that families of people struggling with mental illness needed support too, so we partnered with the National Alliance on Mental illness of Washtenaw County to offer the Family to Family education series and a support group for family members. The most important thing is for me to listen to what the community needs, and then give that service to them.”
“Having a navigator has helped because it brought counseling to our community in a non-threatening way. It allowed our agency to serve as a bridge for our long-time clients to get introduced to counseling in a safe space. It has opened doors for people who felt there wasn’t any help for them in our community,” said Seyfried. Prior to having the navigator, Seyfried was only able to direct people back to their primary care physician for help.
On average, 80% of the people who met with the navigator went on to seek additional care. The model of the behavioral health services navigator is currently being shared with other hospitals within Saint Joseph Mercy Health System to consider adopting. “The success of the navigator is based on the collaboration of members in the clinical health community,” said Curran.
CHELSEA – St. Joe’s Chelsea and the Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network will host a drug take back event in partnership with Chelsea Retirement Community, Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research and the Chelsea Police Department:
Saturday, Oct. 27 | 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Chelsea Retirement Community 805 W. Middle St. Chelsea, MI 48118 Print Flyer