Post-Treatment Rehabilitation is Key for Breast Cancer Survivors

‘Rehabilitation Makes All the Difference’ Breast Cancer Survivor, Harvard Doctor Advocates

Julie Silver

Breast cancer is a disease that one in eight women in the U.S. will face during their lifetimes. Fortunately, modern medical science is often successful at removing the disease. But all too often, there is a disconnect after medical cancer treatment: Unlike other major illnesses and injuries, cancer patients are given very toxic treatments and then, more often than not, are sent home with little or no rehabilitation, forcing them to try to figure things out on their own, which can result in unnecessary disability.

Physical and occupational therapists and caseworkers should focus more on cancer rehabilitation efforts with their patients, says Harvard Medical School Assistant Professor Dr. Julie Silver, leading to improved patient satisfaction and functional outcomes – not to mention increased revenue.

Her advice for medical professionals is: “Screen cancer patients for physical impairments and refer them to rehabilitation professionals who are qualified to treat these impairments. Keep in mind that ‘wellness models’ are important, but not a first step. If someone has a stroke, the first step would not be a group exercise class or a referral to a fitness professional. That would come later. The same is true for cancer survivors.” Rehabilitation efforts must be tailored to fit the individual’s needs and their “pace” of healing: what they are capable of at any given time.

Rehabilitation can make all the difference in terms of healing and avoiding future hospitalizations, according to Dr. Julie Silver. Dr. Silver is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, an expert in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and she is also a cancer survivor herself. She is the author of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Healing for Your Breast Cancer Journey: Surviving and Thriving During and After Your Diagnosis and Treatment.

Dr. Silver notes that “It is really critical for everyone to understand that evidence-based cancer rehabilitation helps to decrease disability and reduce hospital readmissions,” she says. In Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Healing for Your Breast Cancer Journey, Dr. Silver provides leading-edge medical information and facts, which are presented in tandem with personal accounts from real women who have made it through their own breast cancer treatments and the rehabilitation journeys they took afterward, sharing what helped them and what they did to heal and thrive.

Let your cancer patients know that there are rehabilitation options available to them, as well as books like Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Healing for Your Breast Cancer Journey which will inform them as well as reassure them they are not alone, and allow them to learn what worked or didn’t work for other women.