For Immediate Release: September 1, 2015

AtlantiCare S.T.E.P. Program offers education
for people completing cancer treatment
Fall sessions to start September 3

The AtlantiCare Cancer Care Institute, a Fox Chase Cancer Center Partner, will offer a free, four week S.T.E.P. program (Support, Training Emotional support and Physical activity) for people with cancer; people in remission; and cancer survivors beginning Thursday, September 3 at 5 p.m. Friends or family members are also welcome to attend the one-hour sessions, which will take place in the center and at the AtlantiCare LifeCenter, both in the AtlantiCare Health Park, 2500 English Creek Avenue, Egg Harbor Township, NJ.

“The goal of the program is to provide people with cancer or who have completed cancer treatment with the tools they need to manage the next phase of life, to empower them to manage their health and wellness, and to help them transition out of active cancer treatment,” says Michele Gaguski, RN, MSN, AOCN CHPN APN-C, clinical director, Medical Oncology, AtlantiCare Cancer Care Institute, a Fox Chase Cancer Center Partner.

The program covers management of post-treatment symptoms; stress management and emotional well-being; nutrition; and physical activity and fitness.

“We focus on the individual – taking into account his or her personal educational needs,” Gaguski adds. “We arm patients with knowledge, including what they might expect as far as post-treatment symptoms. We discuss how to minimize long-term effects of cancer therapies and how to enhance the quality of their lives through fitness, good nutrition, and other healthy behaviors.”

September 3 at 5 p.m.
Tips and Tools for Managing Symptoms (During and Post Cancer Treatment)
Joseph Stella, MD Conference Room
AtlantiCare Cancer Care Institute, Egg Harbor Township
Allison Gibase, RN, oncology certified nurse, Medical Oncology, AtlantiCare Cancer Care Institute; and Victoria Nicolicchia RN, oncology certified nurse, Medical Oncology, Infusion Services, AtlantiCare Cancer Care Institute, will discuss management of treatment side effects.
A light dinner will be served.

September 10 at 5 p.m.
Stopping the Stress: Managing Emotional Side Effects
Joseph Stella, MD Conference Room
AtlantiCare Cancer Care Institute, Egg Harbor Township
Michele Gaguski, RN, MSN, AOCN CHPN APN-C, clinical director, Medical Oncology, AtlantiCare Cancer Care Institute, a Fox Chase Cancer Center Partner, will discuss coping with emotional side effects from treatment.
A light dinner will be served.

September 24 at 5 p.m.
Healthy Snacking with Hannah: Easy and Healthy Snack Ideas for Patients with Cancer

Joseph Stella, MD Conference Room
AtlantiCare Cancer Care Institute, Egg Harbor Township
Hannah Rizzo, registered dietician, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, will share tips for healthy eating and engage in making healthy snacks.
Healthy snacks will be provided.

October 1 at 3 p.m.
Fitness Training for Patients During or After Chemotherapy
AtlantiCare LifeCenter, Egg Harbor Township Josh Tantillo, certified personal trainer, TRAIN, will lead participants in a fitness session designed for patients with cancer.
Please bring water and wear comfortable clothes.

“Completion of cancer treatment is a time of celebration,” says Gaguski “With this great change, though, come other changes. For a patient who was visiting a facility for chemotherapy or radiation treatment on a regular basis, fewer medical visits are now necessary. Some patients experience residual effects of their cancer treatment.” Sometimes, Gaguski says, it can be a challenging transition.

S.T.E.P. speakers offer these tips to patients completing treatment:

  • Get regular physical activity. It’s critical to feeling better and managing cancer-related fatigue, which might continue even after you have completed treatment.
  • Seek support groups. Others who have faced – or are facing – the same challenges as you are a great source of support. This level of support can be in person or online.
  • Talk with your health care provider about any mental health concerns you might have. Feelings of depression and anxiety can accompany a cancer diagnosis, and could linger – or begin – even after a patient completes treatment. Depression and anxiety are medical conditions that warrant specialized medical treatment.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet – during and after treatment. A variety of healthy foods will provide the nutrients you need to maintain good health.

Additionally, Gaguski stresses the importance of seeing a primary care provider (PCP). “He or she manages one’s general health. AtlantiCare’s Oncology Team works closely with a person’s PCP while he or she receives cancer therapy,” she notes. “Other health concerns – such as high blood pressure or diabetes – aren’t in remission just because the cancer is, so we remind patients to continue to see their primary care provider. We encourage anyone who doesn’t have one to find one, providing assistance through AtlantiCare’s Access Center if they wish.

“Hearing that cancer is in remission is a wonderful milestone,” says Gaguski. “We hope to celebrate that moment with all of our patients. End of treatment is not the end of the cancer trajectory, though. It’s a big change from active cancer treatment to completing treatment and being in remission. We want to support our patients as they navigate this new phase of life. The STEP Program is a great resource for patients and family members to help bridge the transition out of treatment and into the survivorship phase.”

About AtlantiCare S.T.E.P.:
Funded through a grant from the Oncology Nursing Society, S.T.E.P. consists of four, one-hour interactive sessions. Participants can attend all or single sessions. Contact Michele E. Gaguski at 609-677-7732 or email at michele.gaguski@atlanticare.org to register.

For more information about AtlantiCare programs and services, including AtlantiCare’s Breast Cancer Support Group, or to find an AtlantiCare healthcare provider, visit www.atlanticare.org, www.well4life.org or call the AtlantiCare Access Center at 1-888-569-1000.

Media Contacts:
Jennifer Tornetta, (O) 609-569-7010, (C) 609-335-3446, jennifer.tornetta@atlanticare.org
Betsy Woerner, (O) 609-748-7539, (C) 609-385-6361, betsy.woerner@atlanticare.org

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AtlantiCare is an integrated system of services designed to help people achieve optimal health. It includes AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, AtlantiCare Health Engagement, the AtlantiCare Foundation, and AtlantiCare Health Services. Its more than 5,221 employees and more than 700 physicians serve the community in nearly 70 locations. A 2009 Malcolm Baldrige Award winner, AtlantiCare was also included in Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work in Healthcare in 2010. ARMC became the 105th hospital in the nation to attain status as a Magnet™ designated hospital in March of 2004 and was redesignated a Magnet™ hospital in 2008 and 2013.