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Patient and Family Advisory Council on Cancer Care

Patient & Family Advisory Council on Cancer Care

The South County Health Patient and Family Advisory Council on Cancer Care is a partnership and communication forum composed of patients, family members, community members, and hospital staff committed to: 

  • supporting South County Hospital’s vision; 
  • providing essential input in the planning, implementation, and operations of cancer services at the Hospital; and
  • advocating for the highest quality of care for cancer patients and their families with an emphasis on wellness at every stage of the cancer care continuum.

Advisory Council composition

  • 12 to 15 members consisting of three to five staff and eight to 10 community members
  • Community members include patients currently receiving cancer care at the Hospital as well as former patients, family members, and providers of community cancer support services.
  • When appropriate, other Hospital staff will be asked to participate as ad hoc members.

Advisory Council commitment

  • Regular meetings at a frequency and time to be agreed upon by Council members.
  • Council membership is for one year with the option to continue for a second year.
  • A Council member can resign or request a leave of absence from the Council at any time during his or her term.

Joining the Advisory Council

  • Persons interested in joining the Council are asked to complete the member information form to the right.
  • Applicants will be invited to join the Council pending the availability of a position on the Council.  
  • Every effort is made to achieve diversity in Advisory Council members that reflects the population served by the Hospital.

For more information please contact 401-788-1570 or

Advisory Council Members

An oncology nurse since 2001, Leah is chemotherapy/biotherapy-certified and received national certification in oncology nursing in 2004.  Leah has worked as a chemo nurse, clinical leader of the infusion department, and now as oncology nurse navigator.  

In this role Leah provides support and coordinates care for cancer patients throughout their cancer continuum. Leah’s goal is to help provide the highest quality professional care to each of her patients in a timely fashion.

Donna BellDonna Bell has been working with South County Hospital’s Hematology & Oncology physicians and patients since 1983, and still loves her work. “Our patients have taught me many lessons on living, and not to take things for granted,” she says.

Donna was the primary caretaker for her mother who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 1998. This experience increased her awareness on how stressful cancer can be on the patient’s family.

Cancer Survivor South County Hospital Exercise Technician STAR Provider Certified

Matt was a URI student when he was diagnosed with Stage II testicular cancer in 2010. He had his initial surgery immediately after diagnosis, followed by chemotherapy and a second surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

In August 2014, Matt graduated from URI with a major in Kinesiology and, following graduation, accepted an exercise technician job in South County Hospital’s Cardiopulmonary & Wellness Center. Now he is helping other cancer survivors maximize their health and well-being through the STAR Cancer Survivorship Program.

Melissa has had several family members who have been diagnosed with cancer. Most recently her father was diagnosed with melanoma.  Professionally, Melissa worked for eight years in cancer control and patient support.  She then earned a Masters in Public Health and is currently working as the Health Systems Manager for state and primary care initiatives at the American Cancer Society.  Melissa joined the Advisory Council in October 2016.

“As a member of the community of South Kingstown, a public health professional, and a person who has been touched by cancer, I feel that serving on the Advisory Council is a way I can give back to my community, those touched by cancer, and my family.”

Cancer Survivor

Mary Jane was diagnosed with Mantle-Cell Lymphoma in June 2014. She received six months of chemotherapy and frequent blood transfusions at South County Hospital. Mary describes the hospital’s infusion center as her “home away from home” and praises the staff for the quality of care she received. Since completing her chemotherapy, Mary Jane has been in remission and on a maintenance program.

Cancer survivor

Scott Costigan, a retired heavy equipment operator, was diagnosed in 2016 with inoperable Stage 3-4 Esophageal/Laryngeal Cancer. He was treated at Dana Farber with chemotherapy, radiation, and a clinical trial drug. In February 2017, Scott received the great news that his cancer was in remission. Scott participates in the SCH Oncology Rehab and Wellness Program and joined the PFAC-CC in February 2018.

Cancer Survivor

Jackie has experienced cancer from both the patient and family perspective. In 2009, her husband was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and Jackie supported him throughout his treatment. In 2012, she learned that she had breast cancer. Jackie had surgery and follow-up treatment at South County Hospital. Before retiring, Jackie was the head gymnastics coach at Brown University for 32 years.

Cancer Survivor

Rachel was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 at South County Hospital, and had surgery and follow-up treatment at Dana Farber, an experience she describes as “truly amazing.” She also credits her ability to stay strong through treatment to integrative therapies. Six months after her treatment was completed, Rachel formed a Young Women’s Cancer Support Group.

Rachel is a teacher at a local charter school and the mother of two sons.

Cancer Survivor

In December 2010, Mary was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. After surgery, she began a rigorous course of radiation followed by chemotherapy, receiving all treatment at South County Hospital.

Mary credits the YMCA ’s Live Strong program, and the extraordinary support of her husband and children, with helping her to heal and resume a full and active life.

Cancer Survivor
Physical Therapist

Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. She had all her treatment at South County Hospital and, in her words, “had a wonderful experience with the Breast Health Program.”

Lisa is a STAR-certified physical therapist and started the lymphedema program at South County Orthopedics. She works regularly with oncology patients as a member of South County Hospital’s STAR team. Lisa is married and has two children.

Cancer Survivor
Clinical Psychologist

As a clinical psychologist and member of the affiliate medical staff of the Department of Behavioral Medicine, Larry provides individual and family counseling to cancer patients and their families through the STAR program.

From a personal perspective, Larry’s mother died of metastatic colorectal cancer, and his brother is a prostate cancer survivor. In 2007, Larry was also diagnosed with prostate cancer. He received his cancer treatment at South County Hospital and describes his experience as “entirely positive.”

Cancer Survivor

Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2010. She had surgery in Boston at Brigham and Women’s, and chemotherapy in the infusion center at South County Hospital.

A native New Yorker, Amy has lived in Rhode Island since 1991 and moved to Narragansett in 1998, where she enjoys the surf and sun with her husband and daughter.

Cancer Survivor

Carolyn was diagnosed with a breast tumor in 2006, after which she had surgery at South County Hospital followed by radiation. Four years later, she had a recurrence and underwent more surgery followed by chemotherapy. Within a year, Carolyn discovered another lump. She was treated at Dana Farber with radiation and targeted medication. Today she describes herself as “healthy and strong and feeling very blessed.”

Carolyn is retired from a career in education and resides in Narragansett with her husband.

Pam worked as a pharmacist in South County for 30 years before her diagnosis with breast cancer in 2013.  She had surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and on-going follow-up at South County Hospital.  Pam’s husband was also diagnosed with cancer and has received care at the Cancer Center and Dana Farber. Pam joined the PFAC-CC in May 2016. 

“I was amazed at the quality of care and the compassionate treatment that was available at my home town hospital.  Being able to receive all my infusions and radiation treatment less than 10 minutes from home, made life that year bearable.  I am involved with the PFAC-CC because I want to give back to the institution that gave me back my life.”

Cancer survivor

Linda is a retired school nurse-teacher, mother of three, and grandmother of five. She receives treatment for multiple myeloma both at Dana Farber and SCH Cancer Center. In 2016, Linda had a stem cell transplant at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Linda joined the PFAC-CC in Spring 2017.

Lisa has been a member of the South County Health Cancer Center office staff since 2015. Lisa volunteered to coordinate Integrative Care services in the Cancer Center and joined the PFAC-CC in Spring 2016.

“I would like to grow the Integrative Care services in the Cancer Center to include acupuncture, massage therapy, and yoga.  Serving on the Advisory Council allows me to work with the members to meet the goal of increasing Integrative Care services.  I also bring the staff member perspective to the Council.”