Making the Most of It:
New symptom management program helps patients get back to their lives, con't.
Goals: Relieve depression, reduce pain, improve mobility, lessen
Jean Foley is able to tend her horses again.
Jean Foley, a former horse trainer from Stockbridge, Mich., took
her cane and headed out to the paddock. She needed to wrap the ankle
of one of her former race horses, Jackser Wild.
A once routine task was now noteworthy. For years, Foley's life
revolved around tending to race horses and her farm. But after two
surgeries for bladder cancer and a stroke, none of that was possible.
When Foley first visited the Symptom Management & Supportive
Care Clinic in March, she could hardly walk and suffered tremendous
pain. As a result, she was depressed and thinking of suicide.
"I just didn't want to live anymore," said Foley, 68. "Not the way
Social worker Claire Casselman began meeting with Foley to help
her work through the emotional trauma, such as her frustration and
embarrassment from the ostomy bag she has had to wear since her
bladder was removed.
Pharmacist Emily Mackler sat down with Foley to discuss each
of the medications she was taking and helped her plot a new schedule
to help her take them more regularly. Urba and Walker met with her
to discuss her pain on an ongoing basis and gradually identified a
better medication regimen to alleviate it. They also provided her with a
referral for physical therapy that helped her regain her ability to walk.
Foley has gradually regained her strength -- physically and emotionally.
"I can't do what I used to do -- not half of it -- and that's what
upsets me. But Claire has been a real big help to me," she said.
"Sometimes I get down in a hole, but then I shrug it off and crawl
Goal: Relieve headaches
Joe Wollschlager's headaches are better controlled thanks to a review of his medication.
When Joe Wollschlager was diagnosed with a brain tumor in early
2006, a doctor told him he might have months to live. Wollschlager,
a former Marine and an indomitable optimist, made other plans.
He enrolled in a clinical trial that has held his cancer at bay.
A month after completing his initial treatment, he ran a 26-mile
marathon. But now, more than four years later, the cancer is
beginning to grow again.
Intense headaches have accompanied the cancer's spread.
Wollschlager's oncologist had tried to treat the headaches with increasing
doses of hydrocodone, but the medication would wear off quickly
and Wollschlager didn't want to keep increasing the dose.
"We went on a two-week trip in Hawaii, and I was in pain all the
time," he said.
A referral to the Symptom Management & Supportive Care Clinic
helped Wollschlager find the right prescription for his pain. He was
given oxycodone, a medication the Supportive Care team learned had
been effective for him in the past after detailed questioning and review
of his chart. He was monitored closely to determine the best dose.
Since then, the pain has subsided.
"The staff in the clinic is really thorough, and they genuinely care,"
Wollschlager said. "I was joking with Suzette, and she said, 'I love you,'
and I said, 'No, I love you. You took my pain away.'"
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