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  • Writer's pictureThe After Cancer

Cancer is not a death sentence: embracing survivorship

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is overwhelming, but many individuals go on to live fulfilling lives as cancer survivors. Embracing survivorship means focusing on reclaiming one's life, finding hope, and adopting strategies to promote overall well-being

A cancer survivor looking at the horizon and reflecting about how to take a proactive approach to his care

Survivorship for cancer patients

Advancements in medical research and treatments have significantly improved survival rates for many types of cancer. Cancer is a complex disease, and individual outcomes can vary based on factors such as cancer type, stage, and individual health. However, the increasing survival rates, advancements in treatment options, and supportive survivorship programs provide hope and optimism for cancer patients and their loved ones.

Let's explore some statistics that emphasize the positive progress in cancer care:

  1. Increased survival rates: According to the American Cancer Society, the overall cancer death rate in the United States has been steadily declining since the early 1990s. Between 1991 and 2018, the cancer death rate dropped by 31%, resulting in approximately 3.2 million lives saved during that time period.

  2. Improved early detection: Early detection plays a crucial role in successful cancer treatment. Screening programs, such as mammograms for breast cancer or colonoscopies for colorectal cancer, have contributed to earlier diagnoses. This allows for more effective treatment interventions and better chances of survival.

  3. Advancements in treatment options: The development of innovative treatment options has revolutionized cancer care. Targeted therapies, immunotherapies, and precision medicine have shown remarkable success in treating specific types of cancer. These treatments have significantly improved survival rates and quality of life for many patients.

  4. Personalized medicine: With advancements in genomic testing, doctors can now analyze a patient's tumor at a molecular level. This enables them to identify specific genetic mutations and tailor treatment plans accordingly. Personalized medicine allows for more precise and effective treatments, increasing the chances of successful outcomes.

  5. Survivorship programs: The focus on survivorship has also gained significant attention in recent years. Survivorship programs provide comprehensive care for individuals during and after cancer treatment, addressing their physical, emotional, and social well-being. These programs support patients in managing long-term effects of cancer and improving their overall quality of life.

Wellbeing during the treatment phase

It is crucial for you to proactively manage your health by following recommended screening guidelines, adopting healthy lifestyle choices, and staying informed about the latest advancements in cancer care. With a positive mindset, access to quality healthcare, and ongoing research efforts, cancer can be effectively managed, allowing patients to lead fulfilling lives beyond their diagnosis.

Maintaining a sense of wellbeing during cancer treatment has a positive impact on both physical and emotional health. Here are some actionable tips to support your well-being during this challenging time:

  1. Prioritize self-care: Make self-care a priority by engaging in activities that bring you joy and promote relaxation. This can include practicing meditation, gentle exercise, spending time in nature, or pursuing hobbies and interests.

  2. Seek supportive relationships: Surround yourself with a strong support network of friends, family, and fellow survivors. Share your feelings and concerns with them and allow them to provide encouragement and understanding.

  3. Communicate with your healthcare Team: Openly communicate with your healthcare team about any physical or emotional challenges you may be facing. They can provide guidance, support, and recommend resources to help you navigate through your treatment journey.

  4. Healthy lifestyle choices: Adopting a healthy lifestyle can have a positive impact on your well-being. Focus on maintaining a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and ensuring you get enough restful sleep.

  5. Manage stress: Explore stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques. These practices can help alleviate anxiety and promote a sense of calm.

When to seek emotional help

While it's normal to experience a range of emotions during and after cancer treatment, there may be times when seeking professional emotional support becomes necessary. Here are some signs that indicate it may be time to seek help:

  1. Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or anxiety that interfere with daily life.

  2. Difficulty coping with the emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis or treatment.

  3. Social withdrawal and isolation from friends and family.

  4. Disruption in sleep patterns, appetite, or overall energy levels.

  5. Lack of interest in activities that previously brought joy.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to reach out for assistance from mental health professionals specializing in cancer-related emotional challenges who can provide the necessary support and guidance.


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