Healthcare News & Insights

You beat cancer — now what?

Improvements in treating previously fatal cancers are creating new challenges: How to cope with the after-effects of cancer treatment.

Improvements in cancer prevention, such as early detection and treatment mean death rates from cancer are generally on the decline. While that’s obviously good news, it doesn’t mean all of the patient’s problems are over.

A growing “survivorship” movement encourages doctors and patients to tackle the emotional and physical stress that cancer patients undergo during and after cancer treatment. After battling cancer, patients can find it difficult to return to a normal lifestyle. Each patient should have an individualized action plan focusing on emotional support, exercise, and nutrition.

Doctors should not only focus on treating the cancer, but also how the treatment affects the patient. Specific exercise regimens can help trounce persistent fatigue, and high-protein diets can overcome the loss of lean body mass. Also, empowerment and support are essential for emotional well-being and stress relief.

The Cancer Support Community provides these ten actions for medical teams to pass on to survivors:

1. Stay in the moment. Take things one step at a time.

2. Help others understand what you need. Tell those close to you how they can help.

3. Acknowledge your feelings. Become aware of your emotions and find constructive ways to express them.

4. Do what you enjoy. Continue activities you previously participated in, as long as you’re still able.

5. Seek relaxation. Being relaxed enhances your well-being, whether it involves listening to music, stretching, or just watching television.

6. Retain as much control of your life as is reasonable. List what you’ve lost control of and how you can take it back.

7. Maintain a partnership with your doctor. Consistent communication is key.

8. Be a Patient Active Survivor.

9. Spend time with other cancer survivors. This can provide a sense of comfort.

10. Hope for many things. Even small goals are attainable. Having hope will better equip you to deal with future challenges.

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