‘At Home With Joan” initiative helps Monroe woman cope with chemotherapy issues
Photo courtesy of Joan Lunden Productions
Journalist and breast cancer survivor Joan Lunden recently visited Monroe resident and breast cancer survivor Janine Bowden as part of Lunden’s “At Home With Joan” chemotherapy side effect initiative
By Christine Urio MONROE — Whether you’re going into the police field or getting ready for chemotherapy, Janine Bowden would give the same advice: Be prepared, be assertive and do not be afraid. Bowden, a Monroe resident and a New York City Police Department retiree, followed that mantra in her own battle with breast cancer. “I handled cancer the same way I handled patrol,” she said. “Both can bring scary situations, but in both I was aggressive and assertive. The more educated and proactive I was in my own treatment, the more empowered and less frightened I felt as a patient.” To help patients understand the riskBowden has opened up about her journey to share what she has learned, and is encouraging other patients to be informed and proactive with their treatments through the “At Home With Joan” initiative, an educational program developed to help patients understand their risk of infection with strong chemotherapy and how to prevent it. As part of the “At Home With Joan” initiative, Bowden recently had the opportunity to meet journalist and cancer activist Joan Lunden (the program’s namesake), who travels across the country to meet with fellow patients and survivors. In a recent Parade Magazine article, Lunden said it was imperative for women to become their own health advocates and she hoped the stories she helped capture in this initiative would help in positive ways. The medicine NeulastaThe “At Home With Joan” initiative is aligned with Amgen, the pharmaceutical company which makes Neulasta. Neulasta is a prescription medicine used to help reduce the chance of infection due to a low white blood cell counts in people with certain types of non-myeloid cancers who receive chemotherapy that can cause fever and low white blood cell counts.
“I want to help people become aware that there is a risk of infection while doing chemo, and to encourage them to talk to their doctors to help prevent infection,” Bowden said. “Patients should be assertive. They should ask whatever they want to and be proactive in their treatment.” 'Tough knowing you are not alone'“I initially met Joan during a computer interview, and then she came to my home, which I found to be so sweet,” said Bowden. “Meeting her was amazing—she makes you feel like you knew her for years, and made me feel very comfortable.” During the meeting, the two were able to share stories and relate to each other’s experiences. “Joan made me feel very comfortable and it was nice to share my story with a person who could sympathize and relate because as a cancer survivor, sometimes it’s tough knowing you’re not alone,” Bowden said. “We were both done with treatment at this point, but I remember watching her on TV when she got diagnosed and was going through her treatment. So, to share our war stories and see how much we had in common as patients and as women—as moms getting the news we were positive for cancer and how it affected us telling our children and spouses—it made me feel a lot less alone.” One personThe “At Home With Joan” initiative made Bowden even more excited to share her journey with cancer with others. “Being a part of this initiative has been amazing—I’m so proud because we want to help as many people as we can, and by helping them understand their risk of infection with chemo is huge because the more patients know, the less scary it will be,” said Bowden. “It was helpful for me to share my story. If we can help one person to feel better and less alone, in my opinion, that is success.” To learn more, visit: https://www.neulasta.com/athomewithjoan/