JOPLIN, Mo. — Every breast cancer patient can’t wait to hear the words, “You’re cancer free.”
But, care doesn’t stop after those words are spoken.
The importance of follow-up care is this month’s Freeman Health Buddy Check 16.
Marilyn Six, Breast Cancer Survivor, “I have often said to Dr. Hassan, ‘I love you so much, but I hate coming to see you.”
Breast cancer survivor Marilyn Six admits she wasn’t always necessarily good about sticking to her follow-up appointments.
“It’s nice to hear that we’re cancer-free, but we also need to realize that we have to follow up and we have to be smart about our health.”
Even though radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery is over — treatment isn’t done.
For example, Marilyn goes back every few months to Dr. Anisa Hassan at the Freeman Cancer Center.
“You’re looking for an end-point, you’re wanting it to be over, just like any other illness that you might have. But it’s never over, so you have to accept that and have a positive attitude about it.”
Dr. Anisa Hassan, Freeman Cancer Institute Hematologist-Oncologist, said, “You know, she could be seen by a primary care physician and they can find it, but we know what questions to ask and what to look for.”
The appointment might include mammograms, MRIs, bone density scans, or to simply see if medications are working properly for the patient.
“We give them treatment for hormonal therapy, which can be a pretty lengthy treatment, sometimes 5 years, sometimes 10 years, sometimes 15 years.”
Then, follow-ups are typically every 3 months the first 2 years, every 4 months the third year, every 6 months the 4th and 5th year, and then annually after that.
“You’re not done! But you’re not done in a not horrible way, like, you’ve got a great support system,” said Six
Because doctors are checking for more than just physical symptoms.
“Social, psychological, emotional needs,” said Hassan.
And, for oncologists like Dr. Hassan, they never stop watching their patients.
“I never discharge my breast cancer patients, okay. So, I see them, as long as I’m here, they’re here.”
“They’re so important, and that’s why I never want to lose my Freeman team. I don’t know what I would do without them because they saved my life, so it’s that simple,” said Six.
To learn more about breast cancer follow the link below for other segments Buddy Check 16 series.