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Health Team

Breast cancer survivors learn from each other

Posted July 30, 2008 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated July 30, 2008 6:32 p.m. EDT

— Once women endure the ordeal of breast cancer treatments, they still face the stress of annual follow up visits.

Now, Duke offers survivorship care with a more supportive environment and less time sitting in a waiting room.

Instead of waiting for their name to be called as they sit in a waiting room, breast cancer survivors can come to a group space and take their own blood pressure and write down their weight and pulse on their own chart. The women also get to know each other.

Duke Nurse Practitioner Kathy Trotter came up with the idea to improve survivorship care.

“The key is for them to talk about how they have handled it, so they learn from each other, not necessarily from the person in the white coat,” Trotter said.

Breast cancer survivor Thelma Cain said she feels “more hopeful” when she is with the group.

“You see people who have actually gone through chemo, radiation and they're through it,” she said.

The women meet with a nutritionist and learn about food that may reduce the risk of recurrence. They also hear from a social worker and physical therapist.

The group clinic frees highly specialized physicians to provide intensive care to sicker patients.

“It seems to be working. The patients seem to like it,” Trotter said.

Patients say the group's support makes it easier for them to transition to a physical exam, blood work, mammogram and a bone density scan.