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Enhancing health and quality of life after cancer treatment

Published on June 27, 2017

Enhancing health and quality of life after cancer treatment

Mary K. Weis, APRN, CNS
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Coborn Cancer Center

Cancer survivorsYou probably have heard people refer to cancer as a journey. And that journey doesn’t end with remission.

If you are a cancer survivor, you may face physical, emotional, social and financial challenges because of your diagnosis and treatment. Knowing what to expect after cancer treatment can help you and your family make plans, lifestyle changes and important decisions.

The first step is a cancer survivorship visit to provide you with vital information to help you successfully transition from active treatment to survivorship. At your visit, you will discuss:

  • Your cancer diagnosis
  • Your cancer treatment
  • Your survivorship plan of care
  • Follow-up care information based on your cancer stage, pathology and treatments received

    Survivorship

    The word “survivorship” is often used in different ways. One common definition is a person having no disease after finishing treatment. Another common definition is the process of living with, through and beyond cancer. According to this definition, cancer survivorship begins at diagnosis and includes people who continue to receive treatment to either reduce the risk of the cancer coming back or to manage chronic disease.

  • Managing possible physical, emotional, sexual and social effects
  • Referrals as needed for physical therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral health services and palliative care
  • Strategies to stay healthy
  • Support services available

It’s important to have regular checkups to look for any changes in your health or any problems that may occur due to treatment. These checkups also are a time to check for physical and emotional effects that may develop months or years after treatment ends.

Questions you should ask:

  • Which doctors should I see? How often?
  • Who will be part of my health care team after active treatment ends and what will each member do?
  • Are there symptoms I should watch out for? If I develop any of the symptoms, whom should I call?
  • What can be done to relieve pain, fatigue or other problems after treatment?
  • Is there anything I can or should be doing to keep cancer from coming back?
  • What kind of cancer screening do I need?
  • Are there groups or online resources you would recommend to help me learn more about survivorship after my specific diagnosis?
  • Whom shall I contact if I have any questions or concerns?
  • When can I go back to work?

Mention any health issues you are having such as:

  • New symptoms
  • Pain that troubles you
  • Physical problems that get in the way of your daily life or that bother you, such as fatigue, trouble sleeping, sexual problems or weight gain or loss
  • Other health problems you have, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis
  • Medicines, vitamins or herbs you are taking and other treatments you are using
  • Emotional problems, such as anxiety or depression, that you have now or in the past
  • Changes in your family’s medical history, such as relatives with cancer
  • Things you want to know more about, such as new research or side effects

Cancer care goes beyond the physical treatment of cancer. No matter how it is defined, survivorship is unique for every person. Everyone has to find his or her own path to navigate the changes and the challenges that occur because of living with cancer. Coborn Cancer Center strives to enhance health and quality of life before, during and after cancer treatment. We are here for you on that journey. To schedule a cancer survivorship visit, please call 320-229-4900.

If you have been touched by cancer and want to make a difference in the lives of cancer survivors, please consider making a gift to the Cancer Survivorship Center, which will offer all of the resources patients and their families need as they move from treatment back to work and home.

Health information accessed through www.centracare.com is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We strive to present reliable, up-to-date health information on our web site and “For the Health of It” blog. However, this information is not intended for the purpose of diagnosing or prescribing. Please contact your health care provider if you have any concerns or questions about specific content that may affect your health. Log in to MyChart to send a secure message to your provider.

About the Author

Mary K. Weis, APRN, CNSMary K. Weis, APRN, CNS
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Coborn Cancer Center
Learn more about Mary

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