Who is a cancer survivor?
Anyone diagnosed with cancer, from the time of diagnosis through the rest of his or her life.
What is cancer survivorship?
Survivorship describes the experience of moving beyond cancer diagnosis and treatment toward wellness.
Thanks to earlier detection, innovative medical treatments and supportive care from family and friends, there are now more almost 17 million cancer survivors in the United States today. As even more progress is made in the fight against cancer and the number of survivors continue to grow, health care providers must have programs and resources in place to help survivors achieve the best quality of life possible. UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the N.C. Cancer Hospital are committed to providing cancer survivorship services for North Carolinians.
From the outside looking in, most people think coming to the end of treatment should be a time of joy and relief. However, many survivors find it can be a time of mixed emotions- a time for celebration, yet also a time of more challenges. Many survivors often liken the transition to being cast adrift — they’re not sure what comes next and they feel lost about moving forward.
Many questions may surface:
- What do I do now?
- How can I stay healthy?
- Will my cancer come back?
- What about the side effects of treatment?
- How do I get back to “normal”? Is there a new “normal”?
- In addition, though many survivors feel well, others can experience lingering health issues, financial consequences, and social concerns long after treatment ends.
What Survivorship services are available?
It is important for you to know there are tools available to help you move beyond the illness and positively impact the quality of your life. It is also important to take care of yourself, to make follow-up appointments with your health care provider and make sure you let them know of any physical or emotional things that may be bothering you, including things that get in the way of your daily life and well-being. Survivorship programs and clinics can help you and your family address these concerns and help you feel better-in body and mind. The UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Support Program (CCSP) offers many services and programs to help.
Survivorship care plans
Survivorship care plans are a tool to help create an easier transition to life after cancer for both you and your primary care provider. As your cancer doctor or nurse for one after treatment is over. It will include a treatment summary and care plan for what is ahead. When you get a survivorship care plan, it will help you:
- Address any physical and emotional concerns you have following cancer treatment
- Understand the treatment you received and it’s potential side effects
- Recommendations for follow-up care, also know as surveillance, such as check ups with your doctor, tests, and what to expect
- Develop a personalized action plan for healthy living
- Get other referrals as needed, for example: symptom management or medication clinics, nutrition consult, etc.
- Transition back to your community health care provider by providing a concise summary of your cancer treatment and a survivorship care plan for you and your primary care provider
Call 919-966-3494 to schedule an appointment for the following clinics: Breast Survivorship Clinic, Testicular Survivorship Clinic, and the Bone Marrow Transplant Long Term Follow-Up Clinic.
Cancer Transitions is a free program to help cancer survivors and their caregivers make the transition from active treatment to post-treatment care. Topics include: Physical Activity, Healthy Eating, Get Back to Wellness, Medical Care, Emotional Health.
The Comprehensive Cancer Support Program (CCSP) also partners with locations across the state to offer Cancer Transitions. Find the location nearest you.
More Resources for Survivorship
- Springboard Beyond Cancer from the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute
- American Cancer Society Survivorship During and After Treatment
- LIVESTRONG – Cancer Support
- People Living with Cancer – Coping
- National Cancer Institute – Facing Forward: Life After Treatment
- National Cancer Institute – Facing Forward: When Someone you Love Completed Treatment
- National Cancer Institute – Office of Cancer Survivorship
- National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
Deborah K. Mayer, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN
Director of Cancer Survivorship