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Post-Cancer Care Group Celebrates in Bronxville

BRONXVILLE, N.Y. – About 40 cancer survivors gathered Tuesday for a celebratory dinner at Lawrence Hospital to mark National Cancer Survivors Day and their own personal successes in post-cancer care and coping.

“I’m here for the friendship and camaraderie with other people who went through what I went through,” said Gene Elliot, of Bronxville, as he chuckled at a magician’s performance during the dinner “We have traveled a common path and shared a common goal and are celebrating that today.”

The attendees are part of a cancer survivorship program at Lawrence Hospital that focuses on the physical, emotional, social and religious well-being of patients following the successful completion of their cancer treatments, said Shirley Stagner, a nurse practitioner who oversees the program.

“As more and more people are living longer after their cancer treatments, it was determined that many feel lost in the transition between patient and survivor,” Stagner said. “In our group, we provide a service to cope with the emotional issues, the high level of anxiety, re-entry into the workplace, lack of sleep and other issues that are neglected as patients deal with cancer treatments.”

The program is similar to those at major cancer hospitals, like Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York or MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Stagner said. Lawrence Hospital was a leader among community hospitals to adopt and offer the program, which is free to participants, she said.

“It’s about recovery, coming to terms with having had that diagnosis and keeping healthy going forward,” Stagner said.

Participants receive a range of support services at the meetings, from a synopsis of their treatment to share with physicians to tips on diet, exercise and mental well-being.

“I was very sad when I came to the group and it helped me deal with my breast cancer and talk about it,” said Isabel Vaccaro, of Yonkers, who has been with the group since the program’s inception in 2009.

“It’s encouragement, fellowship and people’s insights that’s helpful,” Elliott said.

The after-care group has members from throughout Westchester County and the Bronx and welcomes new additions regularly, Stagner said. One does not have to have had treatments at Lawrence Hospital to participate, she added, and those interested in joining the support group can do so by calling her at 914-787-4115.

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