It’s a thrilling milestone for patients to be told they’re ready for a new phase of their cancer journey — that their cancer has been cured, or is in remission, allowing them to shift their focus from treating their cancer to living life without it. But patients can feel hesitant, too, says Jessica DiVanno, an advanced practice provider (APP) who cares for head and neck cancer survivors. She’s part of the Adult Survivorship Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK).
“Patients will ask, ‘What’s my risk of recurrence?’ or ‘Should I be doing more scans?’ ” says DiVanno, who has been at MSK for nearly four years. She and other APPs are specially trained to care for patients with or without a doctor.
DiVanno keeps close watch to check for any signs of recurrence and helps her patients manage the long-term side effects that can come with cancer and its treatment. She is also a trusted confidante who can connect patients for help with mental health, intimacy, finances, family issues, or anything they need to start a new chapter.
She loves working at MSK. “I get to see a lot of positive results that maybe I wouldn’t see other places,” she says. Reassuring patients is rewarding for her, too.
“I tell them: ‘Once you’re with me, your doctor has decided that your risk of a recurrence is low. And even if something comes back, we’ll be able to catch it as early as possible because we are watching you so closely. Your health is our top priority, and we’ll make sure you have all the resources you need to live your best life.’ ”