One year after a diagnosis of breast cancer, Penny Jacques of Sanford has a message for people newly diagnosed with cancer: The best care is here in Maine. That’s why, when her medical oncologist Dr. Eva Zaslavsky of MaineHealth Cancer Care asked her if she would consider being featured in the public awareness campaign for the MaineHealth Cancer Care Network, Penny didn’t hesitate. “I feel like I got the best care and was really comfortable staying in the same network of doctors because their communication was instantaneous,” she said. “They, along with their staff, made this journey smoother and comforting.”
Penny had a six-month course of chemotherapy. She received infusion therapy, and then underwent a double mastectomy at Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford, followed by reconstructive surgery. Penny also had genetic testing done at the Cancer Risk and Prevention Clinic in Scarborough.
A key member of Penny’s care team was her patient navigator Helene Langley, RN. “Helene took care of everything, hooked me up with appointments and told me what I could expect along the way,” said Penny. Today, she credits Helene on connecting her to a support network of other cancer survivors.
Even the staff at the SMHC Medical Center in Sanford, where Penny had frequent blood work done, greeted her by name and, like others she met throughout treatment, “they were very reassuring.”
“I have trust in my care team and have strong relationships with them.” Penny has had other care within the MaineHealth Cancer Network from infusions to seeing a cardio-oncologist to monitor heart issues. “Cancer care can be complex. My team continues to be responsive and honest,” added Penny.
“I remind people that treatments and how you feel will pass. However, make sure you understand your care plan. Ask questions to clarify anything you don’t understand. I remember how scared I was at first,” she recalled. “Now if I can help someone else not be so scared and understand the support that’s there for you, I want to be part of that.”
Today, you can find Penny outside – hiking, walking her dog, and bike riding. She says, “I’m enjoying each day.”