NEW YORK--Cancer Care, Inc. has introduced Crossing Bridges,
a national program to provide medically accurate information and ongoing
emotional support to malignant melanoma patients receiving adjuvant therapy
with interferon alfa-2b (Intron A).
The program, made possible by a grant from Schering-Plough Corporation,
is designed to encourage treatment compliance by providing diverse support
services during the entire treatment period
"The side effects during Intron A therapy can be significant, particularly
at the beginning," said John Kirkwood, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh
Cancer Institute. "I call it 'a flu in a bottle'; ie, headaches, fever,
nausea, and loss of appetite."
These symptoms and the year-long treatment can be emotionally challenging.
"Someone will be there to guide patients every step of the way,"
said Diane Blum, executive director of Cancer Care.
Patients will receive a journal to log thoughts and questions, and chart
therapy milestones; a list of support services and recommended readings;
one-on-one counseling and support groups through Cancer Care (1-800-813-HOPE);
a monthly phone call from a nurse counselor; and information about the
Buddy Program, which pairs a current patient with someone who has successfully