Being a cancer survivor means different things to different people. Some cancer survivors feel that they have beaten cancer and are now living cancer-free lives. Others may still be living with cancer, but are managing their cancer through treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.
And still, others may be living with cancer that has spread or returned. No matter what cancer survivorship looks like for you, there are many resources and support systems available to help you on your journey.
Cancer survivorship care is a branch of medicine that is devoted to helping cancer survivors live full, healthy lives. Survivorship care includes everything from managing side effects to providing emotional support. Cancer survivors often face unique challenges, such as anxiety about cancer recurrence, body image issues, and financial concerns.
But with the help of survivorship care teams, which may include survivors and their stories, doctors, nurses, social workers, and other professionals, cancer survivors can learn to navigate these challenges and live their best lives.
How has your definition of survivorship changed since being diagnosed with cancer?
When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I thought that survivorship meant simply finishing treatment and being declared cancer-free. But now that I am several years out from treatment, I realize that survivorship is much more than that.
It’s about managing the long-term effects of cancer and treatment, dealing with the psychological impact of the disease, and being an advocate for other patients. It’s also about redefining what “normal” means for myself and my family.
Cancer has forced me to reevaluate what is truly important in life, and for that I am grateful. Survivorship is a journey, not a destination, and I am confident that I will continue to grow and thrive in the years to come.
What challenges or triumphs have you experienced as a cancer survivor?
As a cancer survivor, I have experienced a lot of challenges and Triumphs. One medical challenge I had to face was getting my treatments. I needed to make sure I went to all of my appointments and took all of my medication.
This was a big challenge for me because it was very time-consuming and tiring. I also had to deal with the physical side effects of the treatments, which were often very difficult to manage. However, one of my biggest triumphs was simply completing treatment and being declared cancer-free.
This was an enormous accomplishment for me, and it gave me a great sense of hope for the future. Despite the challenges I faced, I am grateful to be alive and cancer-free today.
What advice or words of encouragement would you offer to other cancer survivors?
If I could offer any advice to other cancer survivors, it would be to never give up hope. The journey is long and difficult, but it is so worth it in the end. I would also tell them to be patient and have faith; things will happen in time.
Lastly, I would tell them to have grace; for themselves and for others. Sometimes, cancer can make us feel like we’re not enough, but it’s important to remember that our worth is not defined by the disease.
Since everything seems to happen at light speed, we tend to want changes to happen faster than they do. especially during recovery. This can result in discouragement and frustration. We all make mistakes and are hard on ourselves, but we must learn from them and move on.
There is so much beauty in the world, even amid pain and suffering. We all need grace in our lives, no matter what we are going through. And it is my hope that by sharing my story, I can be a source of grace for others who are struggling.
Cancer is a hard road, but we can get through it together.
How has your experience with cancer made you stronger and more resilient?
Purpose, focus, enlightenment. These are the three things that my experience with cancer has given me. Before my diagnosis, I was scattered and unfocused. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life or where I saw myself in five years. But after cancer, everything changed. I suddenly had a purpose.
I was determined to beat the disease and live my life to the fullest. And through the process of treatment, I found a newfound focus. I learned to appreciate every day and not take anything for granted.
Perhaps most importantly, though, I gained a new level of enlightenment. I realized that life is precious and fragile. And that’s why it’s so important to live in the present moment and make every day count.
Cancer may have been one of the hardest experiences of my life. But it also made me stronger and more resilient. And for that, I am grateful.
How do you find meaning and purpose in life after surviving cancer
For me, the experience of surviving cancer was profound. It changed how I view life and what I believe is important. No longer do I take things for granted. Each day is a gift. And I am determined to live each day to the fullest. I believe it has something to do with facing your own mortality.
I also feel that I have been given a second chance in life. As a result, I am more committed than ever to making a difference. I want to help others who are facing cancer. I want to support them and be there for them. I want to let them know that they are not alone. And I want to give them hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Finally, I am grateful for every moment, including the difficult ones. Cancer was/is complex, but it made me appreciate life more than ever. I am thankful for my remission and all the wonderful moments that have followed. Every day is a precious gift, and I am determined to make the most of it.
Tell me the meaning of cancer survivorship.
Usually, people diagnosed with cancer are called survivors of cancer or cancer survivors. People who talk about survival often talk about their experiences and challenges following a cancer diagnosis.
This meaning becomes more profound and important to the individual as treatment wraps up. Until recently, the stigma of cancer was considered a death sentence. But we are fortunate to live in this day and age with the good side of medical science. Lowering the death rate of cancer throughout the entire spectrum.
This wasn’t the case even ten years ago.
The effects of cancer and its treatment
In some survivors, their cancer is very rare; patients are able to return to normal lives when treated. Most cancer survivors say they have excellent general health and enjoy an excellent life expectancy.
A recent study of 789 women with breast cancer found that most did not develop mental morbidity or psychosis. In another study, the majority survived the disease at the time. However, most survivors experience physical/depression symptoms of cancer and its treatment.
Cancer can improve relationships and improve the quality of life, however, most survivors experience psychological distress, and some experience negative psychosocial effects after undergoing active treatment.
Distress can occur due to the fear that it will happen again or death. Almost 19% of survivors of trauma-related disorders are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Physical symptoms for a cancer patient include rashes, headaches, itchiness, muscle weakness, rapid loss of weight, night sweats, and general pain. This impacts all areas of everyday life.
Just before I was originally diagnosed, I was experiencing itchiness, weight loss, and what felt like gas or a cramp on the right side of my abdomen where my liver is. My blood work came back with an elevated level of white blood cells that was abnormal. And I had a huge lymphnode in my left armpit that was surgically removed.
After the lymph node was removed, and a liver biopsy, the diagnosis came back as stage 4B Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Because of the effects of cancer treatment that I went through during my first bout of lymphoma, I was now at a higher risk of secondary cancer.
I was fortunate to live in remission for about 8 1/2 years. During that time, I focused on my health and my well-being. Because of my experience, I knew there was something wrong leading up to my second diagnosis or reoccurrence of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in July 2019.
Standards for Survivorship Care
Several studies have shown the importance of the prevention of new and recurrent cancers and the treatment of survivorship through recovery from cancer.
But finding information outside of the medical industry is tough. Which is one of the reasons why I started this blog and my YouTube channel.
Survivorship Care Plans
Since primary care centers have been caring for cancer victims, it’s important to share information with both oncology and primary care departments. Having good communication through the online interface can give survivors comfort and support.
Those recommendations should include a comprehensive treatment plan that includes an individualized overview, possible long-term impact, information on signs and symptoms, guidelines on follow-up, and recommendations for a healthy lifestyle. Keep in mind that most major oncology departments have support groups that gather in person or via telehealth.
But this is an area that has been lacking. So I created my own. Click Here for the Survivorship Care Plan I created from my experiences as a cancer survivor. Again I wrote this with the intention of creating info for people that were struggling with cancer survivorship and life after cancer. Click Here
As a cancer survivor, I have experienced many challenges and triumphs. I have had to redefine what survivorship means to me and how my definition has changed since being diagnosed with cancer.
I have become stronger and more resilient as a result of my experience with cancer. I offer words of encouragement and advice to other cancer survivors based on my own experiences.
If you are struggling to find meaning and purpose in life after surviving cancer, start with the simple things. Appreciate the little things, stay positive, and search out support from others who understand what you’re going through. Having a connection with other cancer patients who have walked this walk are feeling the same as you.