116TAB SIX | SURVIVORSHIP patient guide
What Lies Ahead Many patients ﬁnd that the experience of being a cancer patient does not stop with the completion of active cancer
treatment. With cancer, the term “survivorship” covers the physical, psychosocial, and economic issues of cancer, from
diagnosis until the end of life. Cancer survivors have unique health care needs, and Survivorship Care focuses on the
health and life of a person with cancer beyond the diagnosis and treatment phases. Survivorship includes issues related
to the ability to get health care and follow-up treatment, late effects of treatment, symptom management, second cancers,
and quality of life. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also part of the survivorship experience.
While cancer is a major event for all who are diagnosed, it brings with it the opportunity for growth. As hard as treatment
can be, many cancer survivors have told us that the experience led them to make important changes in their lives. Many
say they now take time to appreciate each new day. They also have learned how to take better care of themselves and
value how others care for them. Others draw from their experience to become advocates to improve cancer research,
treatment, and care.
What Is “Normal” After Cancer Treatment? Those who have gone through cancer treatment describe the ﬁrst few months as a time of change. It’s not so much
“getting back to normal” as it is ﬁnding out what’s normal for you now. People often say that life has new meaning or that
they look at things differently now. You can also expect things to keep changing as you begin your recovery.
Your new “normal” may include making changes in the way you eat, the things you do, and your sources of support, all of
which are discussed in this booklet.
How Do I Coordinate My Care After Treatment? All cancer survivors should have follow-up care. Knowing what to expect after cancer treatment can help you and your
family make plans, lifestyle changes, and important decisions.
Some common questions you may have are:
• Should I tell the doctor about symptoms that worry me?
• Which doctors should I see after treatment?
• How often should I see my doctor?
• What tests do I need?
• What can be done to relieve pain, fatigue, or other problems after treatment?
• How long will it take for me to recover and feel more like myself?
• Is there anything I can or should be doing to keep cancer from coming back?
• Will I have trouble with health insurance?
• Are there any support groups I can go to?
Coping with these issues can be a challenge. Yet many say that getting involved in decisions about their medical care and
lifestyle was a good way for them to regain some of the control they felt they lost during cancer treatment. Research has
shown that people who feel more in control feel and function better than those who do not. Being an active partner with your doctor and getting help from other members of your health care team is the ﬁrst step.