Surviving Cancer – Learning How to Live Again

Monday, March 05, 2012 8:44 AM comments (0)

Cancer is hard on everyone—families, friends and especially on the individual—even if the outcome is successful. As advances in cancer treatments have led to more cancer survivors, the necessity for supporting and nurturing survivors through the end of treatment and their cancer experience is necessary.Surviving-Cancer

Carol Rosenberg, MD, Director of NorthShore’s Preventive Health Initiatives and Living in the Future (LIFE) Cancer Survivorship Program, provides the following tips to help cancer survivors and their loved ones navigate the end of their battle with cancer. These help to ensure quality of life and long-term health:

  • Learn how to transition from being a cancer patient to a cancer survivor.
    The transition from an intense oncology treatment environment back to your community, family and primary care environment can be difficult. It is important to recognize that you need to develop a new “normal.” 
  • Develop a survivorship care plan.
    After treatment, it’s smart to compile a portable detail of medical records, resources and information that can be shared with your other healthcare providers. As part of the Living in the Future (LIFE) Cancer Survivorship Program at NorthShore, a survivorship care plan is documented in the electronic medical record. This includes a summary of the survivor’s cancer history and treatment, a personalized risk assessment, preventive practice recommendations and more.
  • Prepare for concerns and struggles upon exiting treatment.
    Depending on the type of cancer, concerns post-treatment may vary. The most common concerns for all cancer survivors are fear of recurrence, fatigue, anxiety and weight gain (especially for breast cancer survivors). In the case of breast cancer, lymphedema (swelling of the affected arm) is a major concern.
  • Know how often you should be checked for cancer recurrence.
    The frequency for monitoring recurrence will depend on the type of cancer, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines, and your oncologist’s familiarity with your particular cancer. Most people who are finished with an active treatment protocol are monitored by their oncologist in three- to six-month intervals for the first five years. Some cancers are monitored more frequently.

Are you or someone you know a cancer survivor? What changes to your or their lifestyle have been made? What words of wisdom do you have for others?

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Additional resources and useful information for survivors are offered on a monthly basis at the MRW Survivorship 101 seminars offered through NorthShore’s Living in the Future (LIFE) Cancer Survivorship Program. These monthly educational workshops address major topics such as a lifestyle, psychosocial issues, genetics, and insurance and employability.

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