New York Nurse Practitioner Discusses Comprehensive Cancer Care

Posted on: October 10, 2013

Mind, Body & Soul: Truly Comprehensive Cancer Care

by Marilyn Leroy-Sterling, NP, Care Coordinator,  Health and Wellness Program, Northern Westchester Hospital

NWH_CancerCenter_Ph#18D76FDA diagnosis of cancer is a staggering blow. Although the treatments for patients with cancer are always improving, the emotional and physical impact of a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment are often overwhelming. That’s why hospitals are beginning to offer services to cancer patients that treat more than the malignancy: They treat the whole person.

What’s that mean? Research shows that good nutrition, fitness, stress reduction, and talk therapy can help cancer patients recover and manage their illness more effectively. So when a patient at Northern Westchester Hospital gets a cancer diagnosis, I’ll meet with them fairly soon after and help coordinate any services they might need—this extends well beyond any surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

I set up an assessment with a staff dietician to help the patient develop a personalized diet. The dietician can help the patient not only eat healthier, but also help shape a diet that will support a patient’s recovery from cancer as well as help manage any diabetes, heart disease or other health concerns. A proper diet can also help combat certain side effects of cancer such as fatigue. Although your appetite may not be what it was, getting the nutrients your body requires will help you maintain your energy level.

There are also integrative medicine options offered through this free program. These include acupuncture, which can help patients manage nausea and pain associated with treatment; aromatherapy for stress reduction; light massage and energy healing techniques—Reiki and reflexology, for example—which can be restorative for some patients. People can sample these techniques to find what works best for them. Our integrative medicine combines the best evidence-based integrative therapies with conventional medicine to address physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

A visit with an exercise physiologist is part of the program. In general, exercise has been found to positively impact self-esteem, improve your frame of mind, and create a sense of accomplishment and well-being. These positive results are extremely beneficial during treatment and recovery. We discuss how exercise can also battle the fatigue associated with treatment. The physiologist is able to assess the patient’s fitness and then tailor a program that will fit their needs. We also offer free Pilates and yoga classes.

While yoga and exercise are also excellent for relieving stress, sometimes patients need more help with the rigors and emotional demands of treatment. For that reason, the Health and Wellness Program provides stress reduction and meditation classes, support groups, and one-on-one counseling sessions. These ‘Mindful Wellness’ programs are provided by licensed professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers.

Following the acute phase of treatment, patients need to, and want to, learn how to manage their care. A survivorship plan is developed and includes such information as how often to see your physician, what tests are recommended, and how to begin exercising again.

The Health and Wellness Program, enables patients to connect to resources in the community and the valuable services offered at Northern Westchester Hospital, free of charge. We offer personal, coordinated care. I love this program: It’s all about the patient.

For more information, visit Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center. To schedule an appointment, please contact our Health & Wellness Coordinator, Marilyn Leroy-Sterling at 914.242.8146 or

These services are FREE for patients:

– Receiving cancer treatment, and

– Who are the patient of a physician on staff at NWH

As a not-for-profit hospital, this Program is made possible through generous contributions and support from our community.