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Sheilagh’s Story: Continuity of Care

I was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago. The computerized process used in my treatment, rather than feeling cold and impersonal, resulted in empathetic care. I swiped a card and filled out a questionnaire at the beginning of every visit.

As a result, I reported symptoms I would have shrugged off as unimportant. I would never have thought to tell them about aches in my joints, tiredness, and headaches which I saw as unrelated to my cancer. My medication was changed, and I got advice for dealing with symptoms and began to feel in charge of my treatment.

Every doctor and nurse I saw had clearly had easy access to my progress. Even though they were treating many patients, I felt 'known'. I felt like a person. They would routinely refer to something I had experienced previously, sometimes with another doctor. My radiation oncologist was aware of problems the medication had given me and asked about it. At one point, he strongly recommended I ask for an appointment with my medical oncologist.

It was this awareness on the part of the staff of my whole picture, not just their part of it, that made the journey through cancer less frightening. More importantly, the changes made through the tracking of my symptoms all along the way, made my care more precise and successful. Maybe the outcome of the cancer would have been the same without this, but I as a person was definitely different and more confident.

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