Cancer Patients Regain Control of their Appearance with Alegent Health Support
Release Date: 02/14/2007

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Rita L. Cassling Image Recovery Center® to help patients deal with the adverse
side effects of cancer treatment

OMAHA, Neb.—The Alegent Health Cancer Center will offer an innovative new service to help cancer patients and survivors prepare for and understand the physical side effects—hair loss and skin changes—that often result from undergoing treatment. The Rita L. Cassling Image Recovery Center® located at Bergan Mercy Medical Center is the first of its kind in the Omaha area. It fuses medical knowledge with cosmetology to help patients deal with the often devastating side effects of cancer treatment including its influence on self-image and appearance.

“When cancer patients look better, they start to feel better. When they start to feel better, their sense of control comes back, and with a renewed sense of self-confidence, patients progress along the path of healing much more quickly,” said Ann Jones, vice president of the Alegent Health Cancer Center.

The Image Recovery Center® is a hospital-based appearance enhancement program designed to address temporary and long-term physical changes cancer patients may experience due to chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery. An Image Consultant, clinically trained in cosmetology, offers patients information on how the hair, skin and nails are affected depending on the type of cancer and therapy associated with it. In addition, certified breast fitters and massage therapists are on hand to help aid in the recovery.

“For anyone who’s been diagnosed with cancer, this is an especially aesthetically challenging time. The Image Recovery Center® combines my extensive background in cosmetology and education along with the clinical effects cancer has on the body, making this a one-stop-shop cancer patients can come to look and feel beautiful again,” said Beki Rainey, Clinical Cosmetologist at the Image Recovery Center®.

Each newly diagnosed cancer patient and survivor is offered an initial consultation free of charge to help develop a comprehensive image plan specifically tailored to the individual. Patients will have access to skincare analysis and regimentation, therapeutic facials and manicures, cosmetic applications and cover-ups, and hair replacement options including wigs and headwear. The center will offer extensive breast care support including a variety of post-mastectomy, lumpectomy and reconstruction garments including bras, prostheses, swimwear and intimate apparel. Post-treatment clothing recommendations and educational support resources will also be available.

The center exists due to a generous gift by the Cassling family in memory of the late Rita L. Cassling, who died from cancer more than six years ago. An endowment fund by John and Ivel Reed has also been established to ensure that all cancer survivors—regardless of their ability to pay—will be able to benefit from the services.

“The generosity of others helps our patients each and every day,” said Alegent Health CEO Wayne Sensor. “Without the significant donations of both the Cassling family and the Reeds, the Image Recovery Center at Bergan Mercy would not exist. Their gifts will ensure that Alegent Health continues the healing ministry our sponsors, Immanuel Health Systems and Catholic Health Initiatives, began more than 120 years ago of caring for the body, mind and spirit of every person.”

Currently only available on the Bergan Mercy campus, additional sites are being planned at Alegent Health hospitals. For more information on the Image Recovery Center®, call (402) 398-6464.