It was a morning in May 2010 when Annetta Greer, 64, of Detroit, found a little lump under her arm. Cancer.
“The fear was there, but I’m a positive person, so I just said to myself, ‘Well, the fight is on’.”
The founder of God’s Voices Gospel Chorale, Greer has confidence that shines through the big, warm smile that is almost always on her face. She felt a sense of strength, knowing that she was not in the fight alone.
Faith and family supported her, but the cancer program at DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital also was key to her treatment.
“From the clerk at the desk to the radiation therapist, they were just caring people who showed concern. I was so enthused with the whole process that I wrote a poem for each staff person I met, for all they did and how well they treated me,” Greer says.
A positive attitude, such as that embraced by Greer, has been shown to improve recovery from cancer. In addition, emotional support from family, friends and caregivers is a major factor.
At Sinai-Grace, emotional and spiritual components are part of a comprehensive cancer treatment program. The hospital offers a monthly cancer support group, as well as “Look Good, Feel Good” classes on hair and makeup application for female cancer patients.
These elements are integrated with medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgery and chemotherapy as part of the hospital’s comprehensive cancer care.
Treatment Plan Key to Managing Symptoms
Comprehensive care means patients receive a full treatment plan at the beginning of care that includes management of cancer symptoms and treatment of side effects. In the past, some cancer patients may not have had adequate management of symptoms that affect quality of life, such as pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and depression.
Greer explains her care team by describing the “many wonderful people” she met at Sinai-Grace. “I was referred to a very good surgeon, Dr. John Barnwell. He was very thorough. He advised that I have a mastectomy, so I did,” she says.
“Then I met oncologist Dr. (Tosan) Fregene, who did my chemotherapy. He was a wonderful person who provided emotional support, too,” Greer says. “I had chemo three times a week for eight weeks. My chemo nurse, Joanne, always greeted me with a smile, which helped keep me smiling. She was very professional. We laughed and talked together. The whole staff at chemo was very encouraging.”
Communication, Concern Highlights of Care
When it came time for radiation treatments, Greer met radiation oncologist Andrew Turrisi, M.D. “Dr. Turrisi was wonderful. He thoroughly explained things and made sure I understood the results of my tests.”
Her advice to others battling cancer: “Go into it with a positive attitude, find a knowledgeable care team, trust in the Lord, and have a strong faith.”
This story first appeared in Sinai-Grace Hospital’s Healthy Living magazine. Click here to read more Healthy Living stories.