Getting back to what you love to do—whether it’s traveling, gardening, playing sports, or spending time with family and friends—is what surviving cancer is all about. “Oftentimes patients and loved ones can’t focus on the social, physical, and mental health aspects of a cancer diagnosis until after their medical care is over,” says Michelle Petryk, RN, Director of the Anna Jaques Hospital (AJH) Cancer Center in Newburyport. “We created the Cancer Survivorship Program because we know that the challenges of cancer last well beyond treatment.”
The AJH Cancer Survivorship Program focuses on the whole patient, beyond their medical needs. Its services help patients and their families cope with cancer’s effect on every aspect of their lives, often over a long period of time. A dietician supports patients’ strength and well-being as nutritional needs change, and a social worker helps families access community resources like transportation, house cleaning, and child care. Patient navigators schedule appointments and provide information and resources to patients, caregivers, and families. This program is critical as people are living longer with cancer diagnoses due to advances in treatment. Thomas Gass, a longtime patient of AJH, exemplifies this. “I have benefitted from the Cancer Survivorship Program’s many services, including transportation to my appointments,” says Thomas, who received a bone marrow transplant and is undergoing treatment. “AJH was the only place I could count on during the pandemic.”
Additional Cancer Survivorship Program services include support groups and pet therapy to provide comfort and reduce mental health complications. “Many people don’t realize the profound emotional and spiritual toll cancer takes on patients and their families,” says Petryk. “Offering a broad range of services can help meet patients wherever they are in their survivorship journey and help in a way that is truly meaningful and personalized.” For instance, physical therapy (including aquatic therapy) makes it easier for patients to recover and rehabilitate, while gift cards for gas and groceries ease families’ financial burdens.
As health care continues to evolve, so does the AJH Cancer Center. The Cancer Survivorship Program is an excellent example of the center’s efforts to expand services for patients in communities from Boxford to North Hampton and from Haverhill to Newburyport. As a result of our affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, AJH patients no longer have to travel to Boston for world-class cancer care. “Although we are two institutions, we are one unified team, and we are dedicated to caring for you and your loved ones,” says Mark Goldstein, President and CEO of AJH. “Together, we offer a full array of community-based cancer services close to home, at every step of patients’ journey, from diagnosis through treatment and beyond.”
All AJH cancer survivorship services and staff positions are essential—and yet, they are not typically covered by insurance. Philanthropy is key to helping patients and families adjust to life after cancer and to ensuring individuals thrive in this new chapter. “We are so grateful for the support we’ve received from generous donors, which makes an immeasurable difference in people’s lives,” says Petryk.
Please support your family, friends, and neighbors—make a gift today.