Life after cancer is about moving forward. It is about readjusting to what the rest of the world considers “normal”. It is about celebrating your survival. As cancer survivability increases, more and more medical and social programs are sprouting up around the Globe to help cancer survivors live long, healthy lives after cancer. Today, some adult cancer types have a 70% survival rate. Nevertheless, there are physical and psychosocial issues that most survivors face when they leave the “hospital life” behind.
At Know Cancer, we believe that the most potent survivorship cocktail begins with education. Then, we like to mix in a healthy diet, regular exercise, and emotional wellness. Voila! The survivorship cocktail! If you infuse yourself with knowledge, traditional medicine, and alternative healing, you will continue down the path of survivorship.
Follow-Up Medical Care
Follow-up care is extremely important for cancer survivors, especially for those of us who are in remission. The purpose of follow-up care is to monitor health changes, check for tumor recurrence, metastasis (spreading of cancer), and to help patients deal with the physical and psychosocial effects of cancer.
Follow-up doctors’ visits may include physical exams, blood work, medical history review, screenings, and other laboratory testing. The patient’s cancer type, treatment strategy, and overall health status will determine the nature and frequency of follow-up care. It is very important that you feel comfortable talking to your follow-up care physician. This is why many cancer patients choose to follow-up with the same doctor that treated his or her cancer.
There are doctors and clinics that specialize in follow-up care. For a thorough list of follow-up care facilities visit the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) website.
Regular exercise is at the epicenter of cancer survivorship.If you don’t exercise often, start exercising daily for 30 minutes. Walking, yard work, and even dancing to your favorite song can help boost your immune system and nourish your body’s cells with oxygen and other vital nutrients. Good exercise habits also help to control your weight, which is an important part of healthy, cancer-free living.
Combat cancer-causing agents in the body with foods that are high in antioxidants and other vital nutrients. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, rices, and beans will bolster your body’s immune system and improve other bodily functions. Consuming less fatty foods will help reduce your risk of cancer relapse. Moderating alcohol intake or staying away from alcohol entirely will help your body repair the damages caused by cancer and cancer treatment.
Talk to your oncologist or nutrition specialist about the diet that is right for you. Also, visit the Know Cancer community groups, blogs, forums, and the Resource Directory to learn about recipes, foods, vitamins, and other dieting tips that will help you survive cancer.
The Mind-Body Connection
Scientific and medical advancements continue to illuminate the various links between the mind and the body. These links underscore why survivorship must address the entire self, not just the body. Mind-body healing can come from many places. If you are laughing at a funny movie, relaxing on a vacation, practicing yoga, or if you are just plain happy about being alive, then you are healing. Talk to your doctors, holistic specialists or cancer psychotherapists about different mind-body healing modalities. Also, visit the Know Cancer community groups, blogs, forums, and our Resource Directory to find meditation techniques and other mind-body exercises that will help you survive cancer and live well.
Connect, Educate, Support
Once a cancer survivor is discharged from treatment, he or she has to adjust to a new lifestyle. It is important to connect with other people and organizations that can assist you in coping with the emotional and practical challenges associated with surviving cancer. Many local and national organizations exist to provide survivors with educational and social opportunities that will make their readjustment processes less stressful and more rewarding.
Here are a few resources that will assist you with survivorship services:
- The National Cancer Institute (NCI)
- The American Cancer Society (ACS)
- The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS)
Talk to your doctor and local community organizations to find out more about cancer education and support.