Carolinas HealthCare System

A Support System

At Levine Cancer Institute, our providers focus on treating the whole patient – not just the disease. Its robust survivorship program offers patients a broad range of emotional support programs, including:

Comprehensive cancer rehabilitation services for patients who have undergone treatment for all types of cancer.

Integrative Oncology Services, including Yoga, Tai Chi, massage therapy and acupuncture classes.

Healing Arts Program, which exposes patients to music and participation in art projects to enhance quality of life.

Access to the 24-Hours of Booty-funded Carolinas Cancer Wellness Program – a free, 12-week cancer wellness program that helps patients manage the physical side effects of cancer treatment.

Nutritional counseling from registered dietitians.

Access to social workers, financial counselors and nurse navigators.

For patients as young as Jessie, fertility following treatment is often a concern. Levine Cancer Institute’s REhope fertility treatment program gives cancer patients individualized preservation plans, with options for having children in the future.

Jessie was 22 years old when she was diagnosed with triple positive, HER-2, breast cancer in September 2013. At the time of her diagnosis, she was attending dental hygiene school and raising her 3-year old daughter Ella.

No woman expects to get cancer in her early 20s and Jessie thought she was perfectly healthy – until she looked in the mirror one day and noticed a golf-ball sized lump on her breast. Jessie underwent an ultrasound, mammogram and biopsy, which confirmed the cancer. Jessie was then referred to Teresa Flippo, MD, a surgical oncologist at Carolinas HealthCare System’s Levine Cancer Institute, who put in Jessie’s port, and Wendy Brick, MD, a medical oncologist.

Levine Cancer Institute provides comprehensive treatment for breast cancer patients, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapies, as well as numerous clinical research trials. The Institute, accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers and the Commission on Cancer, is staffed by nationally recruited physicians who have clinical expertise in treating advanced types of breast cancer.

After receiving six rounds of chemotherapy, Jessie opted for a double mastectomy procedure to remove both breasts. She also started radiation in April, and is continuing to receive it. Throughout her treatment, Jessie was introduced to her patient navigator, Brenda McKay, whom Jessie refers to as “her calling.”

Patient navigators support patients throughout their cancer journey, helping to answer questions, facilitate the scheduling of appointments, connect patients with appropriate resources during and after treatment, and assist those patients with financial concerns. Currently, 24 oncology patient navigators are located at 12 Levine Cancer Institute locations throughout North Carolina. Navigation has been scientifically proven to improve patient satisfaction, and improve communication between patients and healthcare providers.

Brenda encouraged Jessie to participate in Levine Cancer Institute’s survivorship classes and programs, including yoga, art therapy and Look Good, Feel Better – a free workshop led by a licensed cosmetologist, who teaches women undergoing chemotherapy and radiation how to reverse some of the physical signs of treatment. Since being diagnosed, and thanks largely to Brenda, Jessie has a new outlook on life and is looking forward to going back to school in July to pursue her dream of being a dental hygienist.