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BUDDY CHECK: Life after cancer can be challenging, but this info will help

One color and one ribbon are powerful symbols of a growing number of people who have crossed a very important finish line.

They`ve successfully completed breast cancer treatment.

Deborah Jackson is among the 2.9 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.  She`s also a nine-year colon cancer survivor.

Beating cancer twice is a big achievement, but Jackson says, life after treatment can be almost as challenging.  She has numbness in her toes from chemotherapy for colon cancer, and breast cancer surgery affected her left arm.

“My left side was paralyzed, not completely paralyzed, but the range of motion wasn`t there,” said Jackson.

She`s regained some of that flexibility in a free exercise class provided by the Bon Secours Survivorship Clinic.  Jackson says that support wasn`t available when she completed her colon cancer treatment.

At that time, she felt helpless.  “Who do I go to for help? What direction do I take now? It`s like I`m lost,” said Jackson.

Clinic Director Mary Baker says care for survivors is a specialty that`s still in its infancy.  She says in 2006 hospitals recognized the need for care after cancer.

At the Bon Secours Survivorship Clinic, patients receive a variety of services and support including an individualized care plan, exercise referrals, and a plan for healthy living.

Baker says her approach aspires to be more than medical, to be personal.  She`s a breast cancer survivor herself, for four years now.

“What I want every survivor to know is that you don`t have to walk this part of your journey alone,” said Baker. “You have someone you can reach out to.”

Clinic locations include:

* St. Mary’s Hospital
5875 Bremo Rd., MOB South, Suite G-11
Richmond
804-287-7804

* Memorial Regional Medical Center
8266 Atlee Rd., MOB II, Suite 225
Mechanicsville

* St. Francis Medical Center
14051 St. Francis Blvd., Suite 2210
Midlothian
804-893-8717