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Providence St. Mary Regional Cancer Center to become STAR certified

Michelle Watilo, Occupational Therapist and one of two STAR Program Coordinators.
Michelle Watilo, occupational therapist and
one of two STAR program coordinators

Thanks to a three-year grant from Providence St. Mary Foundation, Providence St. Mary Regional Cancer Center will be one of the first cancer centers in the state of Washington to have an accredited STAR program. 

STAR, which stands for Survivorship Training and Rehabilitation, is a comprehensive cancer rehabilitation program designed to help patients improve their quality of life by working through physical and emotional impairments caused by cancer and its treatment. The program also features "prehabilitation," which provides interventions to patients before they begin treatment to optimize their physical health. 

While the accreditation process will be finished by the end of the year, the majority of the program is already up and running and making considerable impact. A few months ago, a cancer survivor came to Michelle Watilo, occcupational therapist and one of two STAR program coordinators, in severe physical pain. 

According to Michelle, the patient "had finished her cancer treatment, but the side effects were severe and debilitating. She could not sit in a chair for more than a few minutes and had difficulty sleeping. A huge part of her culture and identity was dancing and she had not been able to do that for months." 

Michelle began stretching exercises and working with the patient, and, after just a few sessions, the patient came to see her in tears. Thankfully, they were happy tears. Over the weekend, the patient had spent considerable time with her family, dancing and laughing. Michelle says, "A comprehensive rehabilitation program like STAR will ensure success stories like this continue."