A cancer survivor is anyone living with a history of cancer - from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life, according to the National Cancer Survivors’ Day Foundation. On Sunday, June 7, a day dedicated as National Cancer Survivors’ Day, we celebrate these people.
We are fortunate that major advances in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment have resulted in longer survival for those facing cancer. In the United States, there are more than 14 million people living with a history of cancer.
Unfortunately, though, a cancer diagnosis can still leave a host of problems in its wake as physical, financial, and emotional hardships often persist after diagnosis and treatment. Survivors may continue to face challenges such as inadequate insurance and employment issues.
The good news is that by the year 2018, organizations accredited by the Commission on Cancer will be required to provide cancer survivors with a "survivorship care plan" at the end of treatment. This survivorship care plan will incorporate a comprehensive treatment summary, including a description of common long-term and late effects of treatment. In addition, a follow-up plan of care, which will feature a time frame of recommended follow-up tests and appointments and a list of specific lifestyle recommendations, will be provided.
A survivorship care plan will facilitate the continuity of care for cancer survivors and will help them take an active part in their health with the goal of living active, productive lives.
In the meantime, staying connected is an important aspect of coping for cancer survivors. Support groups offer a great way for cancer survivors to share with others and to give back by supporting those who are newly diagnosed.
Several disease-specific support groups are available locally. The Cancer Survivors' Association (CSA) offers a general support group for all cancer survivors and their family members and friends. Visit them online at cancersurvive.org. For cancer-related support groups held by Mount Nittany Health, visit mountnittany.org.