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Patient Empowerment


The PATIENT EMPOWERMENT PROGRAM (PEP) addresses the emotional aspect of dealing with a mastectomy and breast reconstruction as a result of a cancer diagnosis or for risk reducing purposes. It is our belief that support is an integral part of the total healing process and of treating the whole being. This unique and comprehensive program has been designed to offer the support that is critical to coping with the treatment plan and with the adjustments that follow the reconstruction process. It is a partnership that is established to accompany women and their significant others through this journey.

The Core Program involves:

• Initial meeting
The Clinical Director meets with patients and their significant others for an evaluation of their emotional needs.

• Connecting Patients with our Patient to Patient Caring Team
The beginning of the cancer journey is overwhelming and is coupled with concern and anxiety of the unknown. Many of our patients offer to share their stories and breast reconstruction with others, a true gift and a “pay it forward” experience. The Patient to Patient Caring Team members are matched by our staff with individuals who are planning to undergo similar breast reconstruction procedures.

• Pre-Operative Guided Imagery and Relaxation Techniques Sessions
Relaxation techniques, coupled with guided imagery, have proven to be extremely beneficial during the reconstruction process. Having the tools to cope with powerful stages of life can help you to move through them with a greater sense of control and lower stress levels. Anesthesiologists and breast surgeons involved in the reconstructive surgery with our physicians have reported that patients who have elected to participate in this service are significantly more relaxed going into the operating room and consequently, find that it has impacted the ease of anesthesia.

• Sisterhood of Support (S•O•S) Laugh, cry, and feel safe to share your feelings in this nurturing environment that focuses on processing the multitude of emotions that surface while facing a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. The road to coping with the overwhelming issues related to a breast cancer diagnosis is a difficult journey. It is not unusual for women to struggle with seeing beyond the present or with recapturing their sense of “self”. While family, partners, and friends can offer tremendous support, women frequently find themselves wearing a “mask” to protect those around them. The groups offer an opportunity for support from others who are going through a similar process.

• Spouse Breakfast Meeting We also provide the opportunity for the partners/spouses of our breast reconstruction patients to come together as a group to share their experiences and to openly express their concerns in a safe and confidential environment. Both individuals in the relationship are impacted by the breast diagnosis and subsequent reconstruction process. Guiding partners to learn to listen to feelings and fears, to understand the various treatments, and to discuss their level of involvement in the surrounding the illness is extremely helpful to the couple. Group meets once/month.

In addition to the Core Program, complimentary Workshops and Lectures and specialized Class Series (Creative Writing, Relaxation Techniques) are always being created to meet the needs of our patients. Workshops have been offered on such topics as:
“The Magic of Reclaiming Yourself”
“Understanding Menopause and Chemo-Induced Menopause”
“New-Trients to Help Prevent Cancer Recurrence”
“ The Practice of Joy”

Mollie Sugarman, Clinical Director of our Patient Empowerment Program (PEP), has an extensive background working with individuals coping with various life and health issues. She brings to our practice over forty years of experience developing programs that promote wellness, health education, and support for individuals, couples, and families facing life challenges. She strongly believes that a nurturing environment is vital to dealing with the myriad of emotions one experiences when facing a cancer diagnosis and traveling the journey thereafter.

Combining her art and psychology background, Mollie initiated the first Art Therapy Program at Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital/NYU Medical Center and participated in their psychiatric residency training program. In 1971, she was invited to join the staff of New York Medical College at Metropolitan Hospital to serve as the Director of Creative Therapies/Department of Psychiatry. There she also participated in the psychiatric residency training program. Mollie was the first non-M.D. to be invited to present in the Psychiatric Grand Rounds on her individual work with a psychiatric patient coping with end-stage chronic illness. In 1972, she received an appointment as an Instructor of Psychiatry at NY Medical College where she conducted a lecture series in couple’s therapy and supervised psychiatric residents in group therapy, art psychotherapy, and co-therapy. In 1973, she was awarded an Honorarium from the Psychiatric Society of NY Medical College.

Her private practices in New York City, Michigan, and New Jersey focused on individuals dealing with serious illnesses, difficult life transitions, and couples’ issues. Subsequent to this, Mollie developed an extensive Wellness Program that fostered physical and emotional health. Within this program, she also worked with women who were in the process of diagnostic testing for breast cancer, conducted support groups, assisted males and females with their anxiety related to diagnostic testing, and conducted a community health education program. Mollie is also trained as a divorce mediator and has over fifteen years experience in that field.

Mollie has a truly special commitment and passion for assisting individuals managing a cancer diagnosis as they re-assess priorities and move forward in life. Her range of personal and professional experiences offers our patients the support that is an integral part of the total healing process. Ask her, and she’ll be glad to share with you how her work has enriched her life.
833 Northern Boulevard, Suite 160, Great Neck, NY 11021 (516) 498-8400
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