The Breast Cancer Survivorship program at the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System puts control back in the hands of Veterans undergoing breast cancer treatment.

This innovative program seeks to minimize some of the most common side effects of cancer, while empowering and encouraging the Veterans to remain physically active and practice healthy nutrition.

For Army Veteran Venus Pittman, the support she has received has been critical throughout her five-year journey with breast cancer.

“I was diagnosed the first time with stage IV breast cancer back in 2014 after having my fourth child,” she said. “I noticed a lump while breastfeeding.”

After several years of chemotherapy, radiation and mastectomy, Pittman thought that she had beat the breast cancer.

“In January of last year, I came in for a follow-up appointment after my reconstruction surgery and there was another lump,” she said. “I didn’t think anything of it. I just thought that it was due to having the surgery.”

Every aspect of cancer care considered

Pittman has the support of new-age technology, individualized education, imaging, lab and clinical surveillance and additional services.

These include nutritionists, physical therapists, psychiatrist, recreational therapist, and a whole health coach. Pittman feels that every aspect of her cancer care has being considered.

“VA takes good care of their women,” said Pittman. “I have no doubt that I’ll beat this thing again.”

Being diagnosed with breast cancer can leave a person feeling out of control,” said clinical dietician Dianne Piepenburg. “Unfortunately, this may be fostered by focusing solely on the medical aspect of one’s diagnosis by being instructed about scans, labs, what type of treatment is recommended, and so on.”

Not only survive, but thrive

The Breast Cancer Survivorship program helps Veterans focus on aspects of their care that they can control. This improves their health and well-being according to Dr. Tejal Patel, physical therapist.

“We are already making a positive impact on our breast cancer survivors, and we are just getting started,” Patel said. “Ultimately our end goal is to help them to, not only survive, but thrive throughout their cancer journey.”

For questions about how to enroll in the Breast Cancer Survivorship program, speak to your health care provider during your next visit.

About the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System

The system is one of the nation’s leading VA healthcare systems employing more than 5,800 medical professionals and support staff. They provide high quality care to Veterans residing throughout North Florida and South Georgia.

The organization operates 14 facilities. They include two medical centers located in Gainesville and Lake City. It also operates a domiciliary and clinics located throughout a 50-county service area.

By Melanie L. Thomas, MBA, is a public affairs officer for the Gainesville VAMC.

Share this story

Published on Aug. 26, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2.2 min.

Views to date: 227

One Comment

  1. Coreda Steele August 31, 2021 at 10:36 am

    I am new to Women’s Health in VT. This sounds like a wonderful program and I would like to know more about it and if we can offer this to our patients.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Chronic pain interferes with women Veterans’ daily lives. Talk to your VA provider about an individualized pain management plan.

  • Do you have “text neck?” or pain in your head and neck? This acupressure for head and neck pain can help.

  • Significant progress has been made toward identifying, preventing, and helping those who experience domestic violence, but there is still work to be done.