Many Iowans who have survived cancer will be gathering at hospitals and city parks on Sunday as part of National Cancer Survivors Day.
Stephanie Phillips, of Cedar Rapids, is both a cancer survivor and a nurse who works with cancer patients. She says Mercy Medical Center’s “Survivor Day Celebration” is an important step in the healing process.
“It’s an opportunity for the people who have undergone treatment to come in, share some refreshments and reflect with their community and be able to see their health care providers outside of the clinical environment,” Phillips says. “We always love to see folks after therapy and touch base. It’s a way to enjoy the day and each other’s company and identify as a survivor.”
Phillips was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and underwent chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. She believes the experience makes her particularly qualified to help current cancer patients deal with the emotional and psychological piece of the treatment puzzle.
Phillips says, “It’s really important for me to be able to cover that piece for patients and let them know that it’s completely normal for them to feel overwhelmed or to be thinking about their journey and their process and moving forward and how they can do that in the most helpful way.”
Phillips is an oncology survivorship nurse practitioner, a new position at the Cedar Rapids hospital. Phillips says, “The goal of the survivorship program is to provide patients with a summary of the treatment they received and to educate them on what the possible late- and long-term effects of their treatment may be and what types of follow-ups they’re going to need in the future to live a happy, healthy lifestyle.”
The Hall-Perrine Cancer Center on the Mercy campus in Cedar Rapids is holding its event Sunday at 1 p.m. for cancer survivors, caregivers, family members, friends and health care professionals. The event will feature music and crafts, and survivors will receive a tree seedling to take home and plant as a reminder of the strength of hope.