Moving Into Survivorship After Cancer

by GregP_WN - HelenJ

There's something about survivorship that leaves you wondering about what's next. Should you just move on with your life? Do you need to take different steps to stay healthy? You may feel a sense of confusion and loss after a doctor tells you that you are cancer free or ready to move past treatment. The challenge is moving into survivorship and taking the next steps to enjoy your life.

Hello I Am A Survivor

Getting Support

We've all gone through a transitional period with our emotions after cancer. When my mother was initially diagnosed with skin cancer, I was terrified. I felt that I was losing the woman who was my support. At that time, I realized that she needed my support and love to get through the treatments. After the doctors told her that her cancer was in remission, my entire family was overjoyed.

Our relief was short-lived when we found out that her medical facility was cutting her loose. I remember my mom's emotional turmoil. She was happy that her cancer was in remission, but she felt that she had no support for the transition into a healthy life. At that time, my siblings and I decided to step up and give her the help she needed until she was ready to move forward with her life. We spent the time researching diet and nutritional plans to make her meals. We worked out an exercise plan to help with her goals.

It was during this time that I realized the importance of support in survivorship. My mom was able to lean on family and friends during a difficult transitional period. It allowed her to feel confident in her long-term health. When you are moving into survivorship, a healthy support system is the foundation of your long-term goals.

Working with Your Medical Facility

Although my mother did not have direct support from her medical facility, she was informed that survivorship templates are available to assist with her goals. Medical facilities may or may not offer a survivorship template or support after cancer care. Doctors provide details about options available in a local area when a facility does not offer direct support for a transition into survivorship.

Moving Into Survivorship After Cancer

Survivor Care Plan Template 

This care plan was developed by the Minnesota Cancer Alliance to help you record details of your cancer treatment, help you discuss post-treatment needs with your health care provider, gain awareness of short and long-term side effects post treatment and develop a plan to address needs and concerns of post-treatment survivorship and follow-up care.

A template gives a place to start when you are ready to move forward with your life. It helps you develop a diet plan and an exercise plan to stay on track with your health goals. It also ensures that you have the information you need to reduce the risk of remission. My family decided to look for templates as part of our research into health for my mother's needs.

ONCO Life Survivorship Care Plan

The OncoLife Survivorship Care Plan is a tool to help you work with your oncologist and primary healthcare provider to address the medical and psychosocial challenges that may arise post-treatment.

When a medical facility offers a survivorship template or a plan for their patients after cancer, it focuses on individual needs. The programs usually provide information about diet and exercise. It may also provide support groups for specific types of cancer survivorship. In my mom's case, she decided to join a support group for skin cancer in her local area. The support group gave her an outlet to discuss her concerns as well as to connect with others who have gone through the same painful treatments.

Journey Forward

This care plan is one that your doctor must fill out for you. It was created by a collaboration of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, the UCLA Cancer Survivorship Center, Wellpoint, Inc., and Genentech.

ASCO Cancer Treatment Summaries

Today, there are more than 15.5 million Americans alive with a history of cancer. Cancer.Net's survivorship section provides helpful information for cancer survivors and their friends and family.

Survivorship after cancer is a process. Transitioning into a healthy lifestyle takes time, but it is possible with love and support. You can work with loved ones, a local support group or your medical facility to develop a plan of action that gives you the tools to take the next step into survivorship after cancer.

If you need ideas and support for moving past cancer treatments and on into cancer survivorship, drop in at WhatNext and ask for the guidance you need. There are lots of great people there that are happy to help you along your road to cancer survivorship!

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