Surviving and thriving
The words, “I’m a survivor” make a strong statement, and they mean different things to different people. Survivors can be those who have completed treatment, who are currently cancer-free or who have been diagnosed with cancer and are working through it. The most important aspect of surviving is doing your best to thrive regardless of where you are in the journey.
Creating your personal Survivorship Care Plan
The Institute of Medicine suggests working with your medical team to create a personal care plan once you’ve completed cancer treatment. The plan should summarize such things as:
Potential late side effects, their symptoms and treatment
Recommendations for regular cancer screening and follow-up care
Common psychological and social effects
Recommendations for a healthy lifestyle
Effective prevention options
A list of support resources
You can start developing this personal Survivorship Care Plan with the guidelines at www.livestrongcareplan.org
“I love my life. I’ll fight for it.” MICHAEL KIERST
Resources for life after cancer
A pancreatic cancer diagnosis, Valentine’s Day, 2014, was unwelcome news after feeling sick for a few days. Those days had been spent skiing at Taos Ski Valley. Early diagnosis proved to make the difference in my journey. Health professionals (at CHRISTUS St. Vincent) in New Mexico saved my life. Treatment included surgery and 6 months of treatment. By hanging tough, taking one day at a time and trusting doctors and caregivers, it is possible to get through to a better day. Therewere many trips to Santa Fe from Taos, where the CFFNM’s emotional and financial support was helpful. A year later, I am cancer free. My future includes many more tests and monitoring. Life is good and not to be taken for granted. I am prepared to do whatever it takes to continue to live. The gift of life is the most beautiful gift of all. Recently, I am back onmy mountain bike. Every pedal stroke makes me more confident that I canmake it to the top of the mountain one day. Being diagnosed with cancer and knowing I am fighting my way back to a normal life, makes getting to the mountain top so much more gratifying.”
MICHAEL KIERST, CANCER SURVIVOR
Cancer Services of New Mexico
Central United Methodist Church, 201 University Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, 87106 Fourth Annual Long-Term Effects of Cancer Survivorship Conference Breakout sessions on Fatigue/Sleep Issues, Lymphedema, Creative Movement/Visual Art Interactive, End of Life Planning and Support March 28, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Contact Patricia Torn, 505-307-3414, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cancer Support Now Helpline 505-255-0405 or 855-955-3500 American Cancer Society 800-227-2345
If cancer comes back (recurrent cancers)
You are always entitled to get a second opinion You may participate in a clinical trial Your doctor might call for more treatment, repeating the same treatments you had before or calling for new treatments
Coping with recurrent cancer
It is natural to feel fearful, angry or hopeless if your cancer comes back. Talk to your loved ones about your feelings, talk to your medical team about options and focus on thriving:
Make conscious choices about how you spend your time and whom you spend it with. Create more special time with ones love. Take classes in things you’ve always wanted to. Start an organization, or create the tools to make a meaningful career change if you want. Document your experience and lessons using writing, art, photos or any creative outlet.