Health Direct - Summer 2019 - 12
Life on the
Cancer center social worker faces
breast cancer diagnosis, has utmost
confidence in her care
By John Berggren
When Lynn Pankratz found
a lump on her breast in
February 2017, she shuddered at the discovery. As a social
worker at the Tammy Walker Cancer
Center, she'd counseled many patients
through cancer treatment. When the
results from a mammogram, biopsy and
MRI eventually confirmed she had an
early stage invasive form of the disease,
she found out exactly what it felt like to
be on the other side-as a patient facing
such a serious health issue.
"When you're going through all the
tests, you do begin to fear for your life,"
Pankratz says. "You're afraid you're
going to die."
Pankratz saw oncologist Jeffrey
Geitz, M.D., who eased a lot of the anxieties she and her husband were feeling
at their first appointment.
"Dr. Geitz had information about what
I was facing and discussed a treatment
plan," Pankratz says. "What he told me
and my husband really began to calm us.
I had hope that I could beat this."
Pankratz went through six rounds of
chemotherapy and immunotherapy, a
lumpectomy and radiation treatment
to eliminate the cancer. She continued
working through her treatment, wearing wigs after she lost her hair from the
chemo. With better understood empathy
for the uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis,
she became determined to continue
helping other patients.
As she personally began accessing
the services at the cancer center, she
developed an even higher level of respect
for her colleagues. She consulted with
a dietitian on staff who recommended
changes in her diet to help ease side
effects from treatment. The education
she received before treatment and the
support medical and radiation oncology
staff offered at her appointments helped
her cope. She noticed how even the front
desk staff members went out of their way
to make sure patients were getting where
they needed to be.
The Tammy Walker Cancer Center's medical
oncology and hematology department received
a three-year certification from the American
Society of Clinical Oncology's Quality Oncology
Practice Initiative (QOPI) last winter. The voluntary program is an effort to help medical
oncology practices assess the quality of care
they provide patients.
To become QOPI certified, practices have
to submit to an evaluation of their entire
practice and documentation standards.
The QOPI Certification Program staff and
committee members then verify through
an on-site survey that the evaluation
and documents are correct and that the
practices meet core standards in areas
The QOPI Certification Program was
launched in January 2010, and nearly
300 practices are currently certified.
Health Direct - Summer 2019
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