Health Check: STAR program for cancer survivors

Doug Kraus is a cancer survivor.

His first bout with cancer was in early 2007. He had colon cancer.

"By March I was already in a trial chemo program, radiation concurrent," Kraus said. "I had my surgery in July."

Months after that, Kraus was diagnosed with a bowel obstruction which required another surgery.

In 2009, he was diagnosed with kidney cancer, and underwent more surgery.

"I had lost a lot of weight, very weak. No stamina and no strength," Kraus said.

It was because of patients, like Kraus, that the STAR program at South County Hospital was born. STAR is an acronym for Survivorship Training and Rehab.

The hospital has had 63 patients in the program since it launched last fall.

"We offer them a variety of services. We have (physical therapy), (occupational therapy), speech, exercise, nutritional counseling," said Sherri Zinno of South County Hospital.

The idea is similar to cardiac rehab, only the STAR program is tailored to cancer patients no matter where they are in treatment and even after treatment.

"The emotional part is just knowing you've got support here. Knowing you're not going to hurt yourself," Kraus said.

The program was started by Dr. Julie Silver, a Harvard physician after she survived cancer and all the treatments that go along with it. The program is now being offered nationwide and is often covered by insurance.