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A Community Fighting Cancer

A Community Fighting Cancer

One patient’s experience with the Sarasota Memorial Thrive Program

In 2010, when Jane Procise was diagnosed with severe osteoporosis, she didn’t despair. She tackled this new challenge head-on, embracing meditation and changing her diet, pumping up her exercise routine and even becoming a yoga teacher. “What can I do to get on with my life the very best I can?” she would ask herself. And then she would do it. But when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 74, she knew it wasn’t something she could tackle alone. Thanks to her healthcare team at Sarasota Memorial, she didn’t have to.


“Breast cancer is a very difficult diagnosis to assimilate into your life,” Jane says today, thinking back on her ordeal. It began with a routine mammogram. Then a follow-up and a biopsy. Then the bad news. Ductal carcinoma in situ. Jane was blindsided. Her mind swam with doubts. Her fears multiplied. Will I lose my breast? Has the cancer spread? Will I die? “I’ve taught classes on anxiety and stress reduction, with meditation and breathing exercises,” she says. “All that went out the window after the diagnosis. I really needed help.” Alone with her thoughts and her diagnosis, Jane found herself at a loss, confused and anxious, paralyzed and practically mute. “And I’m not a person who asks for help,” she says. “That’s always difficult for me.” But she didn’t have to. With the Sarasota Memorial Thrive Program, help came to her in the form of a nurse navigator named Michelle. “It was like someone wonderful called just to listen and give you support,” Jane says, and the two of them talked for a long time. And when Jane had questions, Michelle would answer them or find someone who could. “She was very generous with her time, and I felt so much better,” she says. Two days later, Jane received an informational packet explaining all of the services and options available to her. It came with a letter from Michelle, inviting Jane to call if she ever needed anything. “I felt the community supporting me and holding me up,” she says.

The Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute at Sarasota Memorial Hospital – Sarasota.Treatment

Jane was fortunate that the cancer had not spread, but surgery would be required. She told her primary care physician that she would be most comfortable with a woman as her surgeon, and soon was in the office of Dr. Sarah C. Kimball, a board-certified Breast Surgical Oncologist with the Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute. After a brief exam, the two sat for a while and discussed the diagnosis and the treatment options available. Jane admits to not remembering all of the details from that first visit, still slightly overwhelmed, but she remembers the feeling she left with. “What I got most from Dr. Kimball was her care and her concern and her ability to make me feel better and get the stress under control,” Jane says. “When I walked out of there, I felt confident. She was not making decisions for me but letting me know exactly what my choices were.”

In the end, Jane opted for a full mastectomy, not wanting to risk needing a second surgery at 74, and was wheeled back into the Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute that June. “The whole experience was phenomenal,” she says. “Everyone was so sweet, so caring. No one was abrupt or in a hurry. I just felt very cared for.” At every step, she asked questions and at every step she received answers. And before she knew it, the procedure was over.


After the diagnosis but before the treatment, Jane had made it a point to attend some of the weekly Yoga Oncology classes and support meetings available through Sarasota Memorial’s Thrive Integrated Oncology Program—a multi-faceted program offering support services for patients in treatment and free survivorship services for those who’ve completed treatment. But it was only after her mastectomy that she realized how much the program had to offer.

In addition to attending the weekly yoga classes and support groups, Jane was soon receiving nutrition counseling and genetic counseling, as well as working with a personal trainer through HealthFit. She was improving her range of motion with special exercises that she performed at home, courtesy of an informational care package sent by Michelle. Jane did it all. “I took advantage of everything out there,” Jane says, “because I figure it was offered for a reason.” Meeting with breast cancer survivors proved particularly beneficial. “They’re exercising, they’re laughing, they’re having fun,” she says. “They’re very positive and I just feel completely comfortable.” Months later, Jane is still very much involved in the Thrive Program (“The resources that involve exercise and nutrition are key to my existence,” she says) and beginning to feel like her old self again. And as she looks back on her own ordeal, she has advice for the women who come after her. “Take advantage of everything that they have to offer here,” she says. “The Thrive Program, the nurse navigators, it’s all part of a huge network that’s supportive and that reduces your anxiety by giving you their time, their attention, their care and their knowledge. And you can’t get that anywhere else.”

Learn More

To learn more about the Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute at Sarasota Memorial, click here.

To learn more about the Sarasota Memorial Thrive Program, click here.

To view a calendar of Thrive events, click here.

Written by Sarasota Memorial copywriter Philip Lederer, MA, who crafts a variety of external communications for the healthcare system. SMH’s in-house wordsmith, Lederer earned his Master’s degree in Public Administration and Political Philosophy from Morehead State University, KY.

Posted: Oct 10, 2023,
Categories: Cancer,
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