Written by SMH Oncology Nurse Navigator Alice Hicks
There are almost 14 million cancer survivors in the U.S. Three out of four American families will have at least one family member diagnosed with cancer. According to the National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship (NCCS), a person is considered a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis through their lifespan. Cancer doesn’t just affect the survivor; it also impacts his/her family, friends and caregivers who are part of their loved one’s journey.
As we celebrate Cancer Survivors Day and Cancer Survivors Month this year, we want to raise awareness to issues surrounding the cancer experience.
One of the most common concerns among cancer survivors is fear that the cancer will return. Another is adjusting to their new way of life. Many survivors who feel supported during treatment, become lonely once it ends, missing the support of the medical staff and friends who were by their side through the initial treatment.
Not knowing what to expect after treatment can also be overwhelming for survivors. With all the physical and emotional changes and financial responsibilities that follow, cancer survivors have a lot to deal with as they transition, post treatment. Survivors must be given time—and allow themselves the time—to adapt to these changes as they transition from active to post treatment.
There needs to be an open dialogue between the cancer survivor and his/her healthcare team after treatment ends. Care providers must ensure that survivors know what to expect after cancer treatment and what follow-up care is needed to maintain a healthy life.
A survivorship care plan is a comprehensive treatment summary and follow-up plan that reflects the treatment the cancer survivor received and addresses post-treatment care recommendations and follow-up guidelines. The care plan should be documented and shared with the patient’s primary care physician.
Cancer survivorship care plans can ease transition concerns and uncertainty, giving survivors, their loved ones and care providers a picture of what lies ahead on their cancer journeys.
If you or a loved one need help navigating cancer—no matter what stage of the journey—you can reach out to our Oncology Navigation team at 941-917-1981.
SMH Oncology Nurse Navigator Alice Hicks, BSN, RN, OCN, helps support and encourage cancer survivors and their families through the Sarasota Memorial Thrive Program. Certified by the Oncology Nursing Society, Alice has been a nurse for more than 30 years—the last 22 of them as an oncology nurse at SMH.