In April 2010 at 59-years-old, Beatriz (Bea) Myers was performing a breast self-exam and found a lump on the lower part of her left breast. After a mammogram, it was discovered she had cancer.
“Once you hear the word cancer, everything else just stops,” says Bea. “I remember the doctor going through all of my options, but I didn’t hear any of it.”
Bea opted to receive a lumpectomy with chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She healed well, decided to eat a healthier diet and retired from her job to reduce her stress levels.
“When I was diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t know anybody else that had cancer,” says Bea. “I needed to hear that there was life after you’re diagnosed with cancer. That’s when I found the support programs available at the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center and I finally felt like there was hope.”
Cancer treatment and recovery takes both a physical and emotional toll on patients. The MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute (TCI) at Long Beach Medical Center offers an array of psychosocial resources to cancer patients and their families. From a nurse navigator and social worker helping with therapy logistics, to a mind-body coach, walking group and yoga classes, there are support programs available to meet the unique needs of each cancer patient.
“Our goal is to truly foster an environment of healing and empowerment,” says Mariusz Wirga, M.D., medical director, psychosocial oncology, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, Long Beach Medical Center.
Bea started participating in the weekly walking group that meets at the beach, as well as other support groups, even though she wasn’t receiving her cancer treatment at Long Beach Medical Center. Many of the support programs available at TCI are open to members of the community regardless of where they’re receiving their treatment.
“After meeting other cancer patients, I finally felt hope that there was life after diagnosis,” says Bea.
In May 2016, on a trip to Nebraska, Bea was performing her routine breast self-exam and felt something. She saw a lavender circle on her breast that was about the size of a lentil. Initially, nothing showed on her mammogram and ultrasound, but Bea knew something was wrong. After a biopsy, it was confirmed that Bea had cancer for the second time and this time it was more aggressive. After a double mastectomy, Bea doesn’t need any additional chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
“When I was diagnosed again, I knew it was important for me to continue participating in the psychological support programs at Long Beach Medical Center,” says Bea. “I even became a mentor for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.
One of the most unique psychosocial programs available at TCI is Women Guiding Women: Cancer Support & Education. Women Guiding Women is a peer mentor support group for women suffering from breast and gynecologic cancer. Specially trained mentors, who are also cancer survivors, are matched with a newly diagnosed cancer patient with a similar diagnosis to help them through their cancer journey.
“Each patient is different and psychosocial care ensures that every individual’s needs are met with keen attention to who they are and how they feel,” says Dr. Wirga. “Cancer treatment can be optimized when patients are offered comprehensive care that focuses on the body, mind and spirit and promotes wellness.”
Bea also participated in the Beat the Odds program through TCI. Beat the Odds is a comprehensive survivorship program for patients and their families consists of 10 classes teaching skills of dealing with cancer and reducing stress. Once a participant has completed the Beat the Odds series, they move on to Boost the Odds, which promotes healthy lifestyle changes in the areas of nutrition, physical activity, sleep, rest, social support, laughter, play, creative expression and connection with nature.
“The way I look at life now is different,” says Bea. “I enjoy each day that is given to me since it can change in just a split second. I’m thankful for the support I received at Long Beach Medical Center and I’m happy I can help other women find hope after a cancer diagnosis.”