Cancer Survivorship 101

We have millions of adults and children cancer survivors among us.

They are your mother and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors.  Classmates and sometimes rivals.

Many cancer survivors have a lot of support during their treatment, but once it ended it was hard to transition to a paradigm of follow-up appointments and a whole new world where they had to adjust to new feelings, new problems, and different ways of looking at the world.

The new normal has multiple appointments, labs, imaging and other surveillance studies ordered every 3, 6, 9 or 12 months.  Sometimes more frequent, and decreasing after active treatment subsides.

There are chronic effects of therapy such as post-operative disfiguration, late side effects of radiation therapy or chronic effects of chemotherapy that do affect quality of life.

New physical and psychological stressors occur in relationships with a partner.  This sometimes causes significant friction and mental anguish.

Everyone worries about long-term health. Appointments, labs and anniversaries of diagnosis/treatment cause worry.

So much to address and so little resources until now.

Your oncologist can make a Survivorship Care Plan. This eases the transition from active patient to being a cancer survivor.  All your interventions, treating physicians, chemotherapy and radiation treatments are bundled together for you, rather than having to individually gather this information.  There will be a list of follow-up appointments and the frequency of each, as well as other studies that will be scheduled on a routine basis.  Other resources for non-cancer related health issues are also available and can be found within your survivorship plan.

This is an unusual blog today, but I want to address it as I have family and friends who are cancer survivors.  Everyone, whether they realize it or not, are within two degrees of separation of someone you care about that has gone through a form of cancer treatment.  Please remember that cancer survivors have gone through an unimaginable journey, both mentally and physically.  Professionals provide resources to help them navigate there post-treatment life, loved ones guide the emotional support that they need.

Below is a survivorship link that explains in details the survivorship program.

https://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/life-after-treatment.pdf


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