Wife, Mother, Marketing Manager and STAR Patient
“I like how STAR combines conventional medical disciplines and rehabilitation with practical treatment and instruction.”
She Likes This Practical, Empowering Approach to Cancer Treatment
Cancer can be overwhelming, as Anne Buckingham knows.
With some treatment for breast cancer complete and more to come, the Midland woman is glad to have the advantages of the STAR* program at MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland.
“Cancer treatment changes your body, and I’ve had a lot of ups and downs,” said Anne, a busy mom of two teenagers who is also a corporate marketing manager. “I like how STAR combines conventional medical disciplines and rehabilitation with practical treatment and instruction. It’s an empowering, educational approach that engages my body, mind and heart.”
Short for Survivorship Training and Rehabilitation, STAR brings together clinical team members to help patients gain strength and energy, heal faster physically and emotionally, improve daily function and feel better. The first comprehensive certification program for clinicians in cancer rehabilitation, it is offered at several MidMichigan locations.
Anne was glad to work with her STAR team from the beginning of treatment. “I had the benefit of the ongoing training and the tools and techniques right as things were happening,” she said.
Following surgery downstate, Anne came to MidMichigan for treatment and began working with Medical Oncologist Ahmed Abdel-Maksoud, M.D., and Radiation Oncologist Rajesh Kotecha, M.D. They referred her to Physical Therapist Jennifer Root, P.T., D.P.T., C.L.T. A STAR-certified clinical team member, Jennifer was Anne’s guide to feeling as well as possible throughout her treatment and afterwards.
One urgent problem was swelling in Anne’s arm from lymphedema, and rope-like structures under and down her arm from axillary web syndrome. These problems occurred because many lymph nodes had to be removed during Anne’s cancer surgery. “At first, I didn’t know what was causing those lines like rope under my skin. It was horrifying!”
Therapy brought relief, and in the process Jennifer taught Anne how to deal with fluid accumulation from lymphedema and do her own compression bandaging.
“She did a great job of explaining what she was doing and what I should look for,” Anne said. “Having activities I could do at home helped me manage better and feel like I had some control. Waiting for an appointment when things come up drives me crazy. This way, I could take action myself.”
STAR helped Anne coordinate activity for her lymphedema with cardiac exercise for her heart. It has also helped her to manage special dietary needs.
Working with Jennifer, Anne set goals for mobility, strength, sleep, and other concerns. The program makes available physical, speech and occupational therapy; exercise, nutrition therapy; stress management and integrative therapies. The approach addresses a wide range of patient needs during and after cancer treatment.
“Jennifer did a good job of pulling out ideas that would work for me and offering suggestions that made me realize I had choices. She encouraged me to adjust my goals and activities as my body and my needs change.”
One opportunity came when Anne recently went back to work full time. She proactively modified her work area to help control her lymphedema and increased her activity level as needed after she returned to work at a desk.
“After returning to work, I found that I spent many hours in the same position which increased the swelling and discomfort in my arm,” she said. “In addition, I set a goal to walk and was not taking nearly enough steps to reach it. I went back to the STAR materials. With their practical input and guidelines, I was able to deal with these things before talking to Jennifer, something I wouldn’t have done before.”
Anne said she felt good. After a nice boost from the STAR program helped her get back in the swing of things at work, she felt well enough to experience another kind of survivorship. She and the family hit the road to enjoy camping under the stars.
The STAR Program is a registered trademark of Oncology Rehab Partners, L.L.C.
Those interested in learning more about Survivorship Training and Rehabilitation services in Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Midland, Roscommon and Saginaw Counties may call (989) 839-3584 or visit www.midmichigan.org/star. For a cancer specialist associated with MidMichigan Health, visit www.midmichigan.org/doctors or call (989) 839-3584.