Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What's Next After Cancer Treatment Ends?

You run the race. Finally cross that finish line.
Now what?

I came across this press release last week regarding a roundtable discussion at the NCCN 14th Annual Conference discussing treatment for cancer survivors. Doctors typically tend to focus their efforts on curing the cancer but often forget about the aftermath. I know many survivors amp themselves up for treatment, count down the days to end of chemo or radiation and then what? They run out of steam. Everyone isn't rooting for them anymore. Their support system and routine is shattered. They're alone even though they still don't feel or look like themselves and still have a long road ahead.

Continuing proper follow up and support to survivors is hopefully going to become an area of focus for oncologists. Yes, fighting cancer and the side effects from chemo and radiation are very important, but so is the aftermath of cancer. Rebuilding their lives and finding their new "me" is equally as hard as chemo and popping into the oncologists office every 3-6 months for a PET scan doesn't answer all their questions and help them.

Personally, I built a support group of cancer patients going thru treatment at the same time as I was, so that helped tremendously. But not everyone has that group of people, and damnit, I had to work hard to find them all on my own without the help of my doctors and social workers.




Anonymous said...

Lisa is even true when your cancer is eliminated with a single surgery that leaves no outward appearance (as was my case)

It's alarming to my friends and family to hear the big "c" word. You don't want your professional network to know at all. And yet you feel like a fraud amongst other survivors who had later stage involvement or more drawn out treatments.

I'm glad I wasn't as young as you when my cancer developed, but those of us maybe 10 years older - we aren't "young" survivors, and we don't have the luxury of being retired to recover. We are done, but are we done.

And now when we are finished with treatment playing the waiting for the next checkup waiting game - we all sort of find ourselves in a common place.

Thanks for expressing it so well. Is this becoming your life's work?

Veronica said...

I didn't read the article (no time :0( ) but it is something very close to my heart as Wullie has found it so hard to cope with post-cancer life and over here, there is NO help at all from what we can see........for Wullie, who had 15 months of treatment, it was straight back on the treadmill of work and family life once treatment had finished. He had less than a month of 'recovery' time before heading back........18 months post-treatment, he is very much glad to be alive but also wondering what it was all for. He is desperate for his life to mean more than just slogging his guts out for his company, although this is what he has to do to support the family he loves........it's tough, there is no doubt, and a problem that I hope will be addressed over here as well as in the U.S.
Good post, KK..........:0)........x

Duane said...

Thanks Kelly for passing this along. I finally got around to reading it and just posted it on my blog.

Any luck w/ the job search yet? I'm still looking. :D

Nic N said...

Good thoughts. Although I'm not there yet, I'm anxious about going back to school and work and resuming my "regular" life. A lot of the people I started school with will be graduating a semester before I will, so I will kind of be left by myself for a bit. Who knows, it may be nothing at all. Being a survivor can mean a lot of things; I believe it just adds another dimension to your life.

When I get a second, I will read that article. Probably when I'm done posting this. Hope all is well!

Mary said...

Amen! Post-Treatment the first say 6 months or so were worse than treatment.

Hope the job search is looking up!


Kate Burton said...

So important that this conversation is going on. There are apparently some people who go through treatment and then move right on with the rest of their lives and then there are the rest of us. While I don't expect my oncologist to meet my every need some warning that we are not freaks or alone or the only ones feeling like we do could be so helpful. Until then we have blogs!