The astounding advances in cancer treatment and early detection have resulted in an increase in the number of cancer survivors from three million to almost 10 million individuals. Patients are learning to live with remission, coping with the fear of relapse and reintegrating into family and work. However, this period of change may cause anxiety and adjustments in family roles and responsibilities.
In addition, cancer survivors are often reluctant to talk about their concerns in order to avoid the appearance of being ungrateful for the life that has been returned to them. It is this very reluctance to talk with family members and healthcare providers that places a cancer survivor at risk for developing late effects of cancer treatment, depression and difficulty returning to "normal" life.
There are a lot of questions and concerns survivors have after being pronounced cancer-free since cancer alters many areas of their lives. Common issues include:
Keep an open dialogue with those who helped you during your treatment. Your medical team, including your oncologist and primary care doctor, can provide you with a cancer survivorship plan that details the screenings, post-tests, and follow-up appointments you should attend over the next 15, 20 or 25 years. They can also give you information on the long term side effects of treatment and discuss your chance for cancer recurrence.
The Upper Chesapeake Cancer LifeNet Nurse Navigators can link you to support services for your physical, emotional, and financial needs even if you were not a patient at Upper Chesapeake Health. For more information on the services available to cancer survivors, please contact the Cancer LifeNet helpline at 1-866-393-4355.
In the past, people with cancer were told to go home and rest. We now know that regular, moderate exercise can actually improve quality of life by preventing muscle wasting and promoting independence. Research has shown that most cancer patients can safely participate in an exercise program even when receiving cancer treatment. The benefits of such a program have been shown to decrease nausea, reduce fatigue and improve balance.
You don't have to face cancer alone. Call the Cancer LifeNet Helpline at 1-866-393-4355 for support.