Source: Cancer Resource Room
individual is considered a cancer survivor
from the time of diagnosis, through the
balance of his or her life. Family members,
friends, and caregivers are also impacted
by the survivorship experience and are
therefore included in this definition." National
The number of long-term cancer survivors
is increasing because of improved treatment.
Over the past two decades, for many people,
cancer has become a chronic illness that
can be managed over their lifetime. If
you have just been diagnosed, you may
be surprised to find yourself called
a cancer survivor. But whether you are
newly diagnosed or have finished treatment,
you may find you share common feelings
and issues with other cancer survivors.
For many patients, the end of treatment
is a time of mixed feelings. You might
celebrate that you and your family have
made it through this difficult experience.
However, you may also feel sad to leave
the treatment team you have come to know
so well. Hospital visits have become
an important part of your routine. Losing
that sense of being cared for and watched
over can also be difficult. Many patients
are surprised at how anxious they feel
when treatment ends.
Caring for Your Self
- Discuss your follow-up care with
your treatment team. Write down the
plan and schedule for tests and visits.
Ask when and how long your oncologist
will be seeing you. What will be
the role of your regular doctor?
- If your regular doctor will be following
you in your home area, make sure
that your medical record is sent
to him or her. You may also want
to keep a copy of your medical record,
especially if your follow-up care
is in another state or city.
- Talk with your treatment team about
the best way to contact them if you
are worried that your cancer is coming
back or if you have long lasting
Your body has been through a lot. Cancer
treatments can also result in both short
and long term side effects that can have
an impact on your daily life. Here are
some tips to help promote healing of
both your mind and body.
- Emotional Health - Some people
find that they have focused so
hard on getting through treatment
that they have left little room to
experience the emotions that go along
with a cancer diagnosis. When treatment
ends, suddenly strong emotions of
depression, anxiety, or even anger
can be felt. This is the time to
focus on your emotional well-being.
You can do this by:
- Talking with
family and friends about
how you are feeling.
- Joining a support
group, either in person or
- Seeking individual counseling.
a journal or diary - writing
is sometimes easier than talking
and may help you see meaning
in your life.
- Increasing time spent doing
fun things with your family
Exercise - Any physical
activity can help with fatigue, speed
recovery and make you feel better. Just
a short walk each day to get the mail
or walking from room to room can help.
- Ask your treatment team if
there are any activities
that you should not do.
- Choose activities you enjoy.
by little, increase your activity.
- Find an exercise buddy.
- Good Nutrition - Eating
well-balanced meals helps with the
healing process. Sometimes it takes
a long time for taste and appetite
to return to normal.
- If you are finding
it difficult to eat,
try eating small meals throughout
- Let your family know what
foods are most appealing to you.
- If you are struggling with
eating, contact your treatment team
or a dietitian.
Finding Sources of Comfort and Strength
in the moment -Instead
of thinking about the past
or worrying about the future,
spend your time and energy
focusing on each moment.
Living in the moment can
help ease stress as you notice
the beauty around you.
- Laugh - Laughter is the
best medicine. Laughter makes you
feel carefree and engaged with life.
Laughter and fun can help bring you
closer to others. Having fun together
also helps your family move forward.
- Spend time with your pets - This
reduces stress and can be healing.
- Practice hobbies and other interests
that you enjoy.
- Relax - There
are many ways to relax. You may
want to explore meditation, yoga,
massage, aromatherapy or listening
to music. Relaxation helps lessen symptoms
from cancer treatment. Explore these
different ways to relax and find the
ones that work for you. Spend time relaxing
Returning to Work and Community
Returning to work after treatment can
be difficult. Just like when you started
treatment, this will be a major change
in your daily routine. Expect that it
will take a while to get used to. You
may need to do things differently than
you did before your diagnosis. Here are
Many cancer survivors feel that what they
think is important in life changes after
a cancer diagnosis. Some feel that there
is more meaning and purpose to their
life. Some want to give back to others
for what they feel has been given to
them. There are many ways to give back
to others when you are ready .
- Before treatment ends, discuss with
your treatment team how you should
best manage your work schedule. They
have experience in helping other
patients return to work. Do not hesitate
to ask them to fill out forms or
write letters if you need a reduced
schedule or additional time off.
- Understand your legal rights. Some
survivors must cope with limitations
or physical changes. You may also
be afraid of discrimination by your
employer or co-workers. You will
be better prepared to face challenges
in the workplace if you know your
- Plan to have a meeting with your
employer right before or soon after
- Decide what you want
to tell your co-workers and how
you want to say it. Co-workers will
have questions and may not understand
that there are limits to your
energy and what you can do.
issues are a concern for most
people. It's best to address financial
issues as soon as possible rather
than worrying about them later. Most
hospitals have financial counselors
who can advise you about programs
or refer you to community resources.
In the beginning, the important thing
is to take time for your self and your
To Search Pub Med, please see below.
and selected health professional journals
& Education Programs
We know that being diagnosed with cancer can be stressful for you and your
family. We offer a variety of cancer support services to help patients and
families gain the support and information they will need to meet the challenges
To find the upcoming support program on "Living
with Cancer...Moving Forward After Treatment,"
and education workshops, and wellness services
offered this month, please view the HOPES