Tulsa Hospital Gives Cancer Survivors STAR Treatment - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Tulsa Hospital Gives Cancer Survivors STAR Treatment

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The STAR program at St. John Medical Center teams cancer patients with a variety of rehab specialists, all based on whatever problems the patient may have. The STAR program at St. John Medical Center teams cancer patients with a variety of rehab specialists, all based on whatever problems the patient may have.
Esther Thais had a double mastectomy last spring after learning she had breast cancer. Thais said after the surgery she felt lost and was dealing with some strange side effects, such as her thumb going numb while she rode her bicycle. Esther Thais had a double mastectomy last spring after learning she had breast cancer. Thais said after the surgery she felt lost and was dealing with some strange side effects, such as her thumb going numb while she rode her bicycle.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Two-thirds of all cancer patients survive at least 5 years after treatment, but post-cancer life can lead to a number of challenges.

One Tulsa hospital is helping cancer survivors find their new normal.

At least 60 percent of all cancer survivors have at least one long term side effect after their treatment. Saint John Medical System has found a way to help cancer survivors learn how to deal with those side effects and even get back to normal.

Safe to say Esther Thais loves cycling. She rides and races with a team and owns five bicycles.  In last year's Tulsa Tough, she was recognized at the starting line because just two and a half months earlier she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"I had the best case of a worse case scenario," she said.

Thais only had cancer in one breast, but she decided to have a double mastectomy to give her peace of mind in the future.

"Getting that phone call was the worst thing ever, and I never wanted to have to do that again," she said.

Thais said after the surgery she felt lost and was dealing with some strange side effects, such as her thumb going numb while she rode her bicycle.

"You're an island; you're by yourself," she said. "You don't know what you don't know."

That's when St. John Medical Center entered her story. It's the only Oklahoma hospital certified through the program which is run by Boston-based Oncology Rehab Partners.

"The STAR program stands for survivorship, training and rehab," said Kelly Berry, STAR program coordinator.

The program teams cancer patients with a variety of rehab specialists, all based on whatever problems the patient may have - strength loss, trouble swallowing, physical pain - you name it.

"There's so much to be said for the social and emotional benefits of being able to care for yourself at a higher level," Berry said.

Thais said the program has changed her life and helped her get back to doing the things she loves.

"it's just, it's been awesome," she said.

"It's just a relief, and it takes a lot of the stress and emotional baggage that you're carrying off your shoulders a little bit, because you realize that, I'm okay and what I'm experiencing is normal and it's not so scary," Thais said.

The STAR Program is covered by most insurance companies, but you do have to be referred by your doctor.

Learn More About The STAR Program.

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