Fourteen years ago, corporate executive Angie Patterson had breast cancer, undergoing a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
That yearlong process was harrowing, but she calls it “an enlightening time.”
Patterson, now 58, discovered as a patient that she “had a real passion to help others diagnosed with cancer.’’
In recent years, she has been working with cancer survivors as vice president of the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (Georgia CORE).
Now Patterson will be teaming up with health-care providers and other stakeholders, along with survivors, to develop research to address the needs of vulnerable Georgians who have had the disease.
They will be looking at areas such as the effectiveness of care plans given to cancer survivors. Other possible topics include survivors’ mental health needs, weakness and fatigue, and pain.
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is providing funding for the project. PCORI is an independent organization created by the Affordable Care Act to provide research on the efficacy of care options to help patients and their medical providers make informed decisions.
The project was developed with the help of Lanell Bellury, associate professor at Georgia Baptist College of Nursing of Mercer University.
“The ongoing health care needs of cancer survivors, especially vulnerable older and minority survivors, are well recognized, yet little evidence exists to guide the best care for survivors,’’ Bellury said. “With the number of cancer survivors growing exponentially, it is imperative that we discover the best way to meet the needs of survivors across the state.”
Georgia has about 356,000 cancer survivors.
Last year, Patterson led the development of Georgia CORE’s Cancer Survivorship Connection, a resource center for the state’s growing survivorship population.
She knows much about the experience of beating the disease. Her mother survived lung cancer twice.
“She’s 82 and doing fine,’’ Patterson says.
Georgia CORE is a public-private partnership focused on bringing higher-quality, better organized and more cost-effective care to cancer patients and survivors across Georgia. More information is available at www.GeorgiaCancerInfo.org/Survivorship.