A new program at Olive View/UCLA Medical Center seeks to alleviate some of the fear, pain and loneliness that women feel when they are diagnosed with breast cancer.
The program, which is sponsored by the American Cancer Society, matches recently diagnosed breast cancer patients with volunteers who have already been through the painful and unpleasant treatment process.
“They will become a buddy, companion, listening ear--whatever it takes to get that patient through the entire process,” said Patti Devine, program coordinator of the Cancer Society’s two-year-old satellite office at Olive View. “They work with the newly diagnosed patients from pre-op to post-op.”
So far the program, one of several offered by the Cancer Society, has matched 20 newly diagnosed patients with volunteers. It is tailored to meet the needs of community residents and patients at Olive View.
Officials say the program is likely to grow. In the past three years, 4,591 new diagnoses of breast cancer have been made among women in Los Angeles County.
Support provided soon after diagnosis continues throughout the treatment and recovery process as the volunteer visits the patient after surgery, works on rehabilitation exercises with her and encourages her to continue therapy.
“One of the biggest fears women have is that they are going to lose their hair in chemotherapy,” Devine said. “Seeing their partner with a full head of hair shows them they can survive and their hair will come back.”
The Reach to Recovery program also fits women with wigs and prosthetic devices, if needed, and also provides patients with transportation to and from medical appointments.