With a cancer diagnosis, there are new emotions and everyday challenges that might leave you feeling lost. You and your loved ones can turn to MaineHealth to find the support and information you need to make these changes.
What Is Survivorship?
Survivorship is the process for dealing with long-term side effects from treatment, addressing fears and concerns, and focusing on positive life changes, such as healthy eating, exercise, and building relationships. Survivorship begins as soon as you are diagnosed with cancer.
Survivorship is the period of time when someone who has cancer is getting used to feelings and adjusting to challenges such as side effects and undergoing treatment. There is no length of time that someone is coping with survivorship; it varies from person to person. After the patient’s cancer treatment, cancer survivorship plans for monitoring problems, including relapse or a treatment-related cancer.
Who Can Take Part in Survivorship?
Survivorship is for anyone who wants support with physical or emotional changes after being diagnosed with cancer. The person with cancer, and his or her friends and family are all part of survivorship. Survivorship is the process for dealing with long-term side effects from treatment, addressing fears and concerns, and focusing on positive life changes, such as healthy eating, exercise, and building relationships.
Cancer Survivorship Challenges
Here are challenges you may face during cancer survivorship:
During and after cancer treatment, you may feel fatigue, changes in your hair, skin, or nails, problems swallowing, bowel and bladder problems, poor memory, a hard time concentrating, body pains, decreased bone density, hormonal changes, and sores or swelling. There are coping mechanisms out there to help you deal with these problems.
After being diagnosed with cancer, to treatment, and recovering, there are a lot of feelings that come up and you may need help managing these. You might recognize some of the following as emotional issues that you face:
Healthy living may seem like a broad and daunting subject, but there are a few key points you can focus on to make sure you are leading a healthy lifestyle.
Nutrition: eating the right amounts of the right foods
Physical activity: ask your doctor to help you determine how much activity is a good plan for you
Maintaining a healthy weight: Use your BMI or talk with your doctor about healthy weight for your height
Lower your alcohol consumption: In addition to other negative health impacts alcohol adds to your cancer risk
Managing Work Life
There are many common issues that could come up in your work life after you have been diagnosed with cancer. Some of these issues may be:
Whether or not to return to work after treatment
Whether or not to tell your boss
Learning about your rights
Dealing with changes in appearance
Explaining gaps in employment to future employers
Assistance with finding new employment
Intimacy and Sexuality
Being intimate is not always a priority or a desire during cancer treatment. Once treatment is over, you may become interested in an intimate relationship with your partner again, emotionally and sexually. Both of these forms of intimacy are healthy, sometimes we just need help getting back the desire for them.
There are cancer treatments that impact fertility in both men and women. There are options for preserving fertility before starting cancer treatment, and there are many ways to grow your family after treatment is over. Get to know your options as soon as possible so that you can make informed decisions about your future and the future of your family.
Dealing with a cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment is a lot to deal with, not to mention the added stress of paying bills and managing medical and insurance bills. Getting familiar with your insurance plan, knowing your options, and budgeting can help you keep your finances managed while dealing with your cancer or recovery.