At Kaleida Health, the Survivor Steps Cancer Rehab and Recovery program is committed to helping patients diagnosed with cancer by providing support and survivorship services that meet their various physical and emotional needs.

The certified STAR® Program (Survivorship Training and Rehabilitation) offers important physical and emotional support to survivors so they can recover more quickly and more completely than they would otherwise.

The Survivor Steps team evaluates and identifies what an individual’s specific needs are. The rehabilitation staff, having been trained in the latest oncology rehab care, implements research based protocols that have been proven to help cancer survivors heal and function at an optimal level so that they can get on with their life. Regardless of whether a cancer diagnosis was just received or someone is in remission, the team is able to assist all along the way.

Although the Survivor Steps Cancer Rehab and Recovery program at Kaleida Health began just less than two years ago, it has helped many individuals face, treat and overcome the after effects of cancer. The program was initially implemented to better accommodate the needs of the large number of breast oncology patients being treated at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, but expanded to all cancer diagnoses in early 2015. Although the Survivor Steps inpatient program takes place at Millard Suburban, the outpatient services can be utilized by anyone with a cancer diagnosis. The outpatient therapy services are offered at both of Kaleida Health’s therapy clinics with locations in Williamsville in the new Maple Complex and in North Tonawanda at the DeGraff Wellness Center.

With the program’s exceptional feedback and the growing need for additional services; the next goal for Survivor Steps became providing certified lymphedema therapists. On January 4, 2016 that goal became a reality when both outpatient locations began offering Lymphedema Therapy.

Lymphedema is a chronic disease caused by abnormal accumulation of fluid that often occurs in the arms and legs. The most obvious sign of lymphedema is swelling. Secondary lymphedema is caused by the surgical removal of lymph nodes and/or radiation therapy treatment to lymph nodes in cancer patients, a common debilitating problem after mastectomy surgery. Currently, there is no cure for lymphedema but there are therapeutic techniques that can minimize the pain and discomfort.

The certified lymphedema therapists provide a non-invasive approach using complete decongestive therapy to treat lymphedema and related conditions. This specialized treatment consists of a combination of manual manipulation of the lymph through gently rhythmic massage to stimulate return to the circulatory system, compression bandaging, exercises to promote fluid reduction, skin care and education. The addition of this specialized therapy will allow Survivor Steps to assist even more individuals return to their life as they knew it before cancer.

Survivor Steps Cancer Rehab and Recovery is a unique program in that it can help individuals suffering from cancer at the beginning of their battle or long after the cancer has been removed and they are left with the after effects of treatment. This is done by providing several outlets along the cancer journey for patients to engage with clinicians who have undergone intensive training, on how to identify impairments, evaluate and treat the oncological cause and most importantly communicate appropriately with those individuals who have received this often devastating diagnosis. Some of the important pieces of the survivor steps program are:

• A compassionate program coordinator, experienced in oncological care, who remains in contact with patients throughout their cancer journey that starts before treatment with follow ups throughout recovery

• A pre-surgical education class for those navigating a breast cancer diagnosis that involves surgical treatment, explaining what to expect before and after surgery, treatments, and survivorship needs available

• Access to nationally recognized oncology rehab certified Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, Lymphedema Therapists and a Clinical Dietician during and after cancer treatment in both the hospital and outpatient settings

• Identification of prehabilitation needs. An evaluation completed prior to surgical treatments to better prepare you for recovery before cancer treatment begins

• Referrals to reputable community resources and support that are available to cancer survivors

Survivor Steps Rehab and Recovery program helps minimize the after effects of cancer and encourages cancer survivors to return to a life where they are comfortable and thrive. If you or someone you know is facing cancer and could benefit from talking to one of the Survivor Steps clinicians, please contact the program coordinator, Donna Gefaller, RN, MSN at (716) 568-3511 or contact a therapist at one of the locations below.

Buffalo Therapy Services:

705 Maple Road

Williamsville, NY 14221

(716) 580-7360

415 Tremont St

North Tonawanda, NY

(716) 690-2301