You are done with cancer treatment. You’ve celebrated with your physicians, nurses, family and friends.
Now what? What happens next, and where do you go from here?
Each survivor has a different answer. Some can go right back to life before cancer as if nothing happened.
For others, survivorship looks different, with major life changes impacting how you and the people in your life live with your new normal.
What is Survivorship?
The word “survivorship” in combination with the word “cancer” is used in different ways.
A survivor can be a person who has finished treatment for cancer and shows no evidence of disease, or it can be someone living with, through and beyond cancer.
Survivorship is unique for every person, with different paths, challenges and changes. Once you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, survivorship focuses on your total health and well-being – physical, emotional, social and financial – until the end of life.
Survivorship encompasses the entire cancer journey, from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.
The OSF START Program – Survive, Thrive and Recover Together – has resources to help redirect the focus from treatment to survivorship, finding the right path for each person.
For many people, surviving cancer provides a reason to make positive lifestyle changes.
Healthy habits are good for everyone but are especially important for cancer survivors. Healthy habits can strengthen you, reduce side effects, and lower your risk of developing secondary cancers or other health issues.
The START Program at OSF Cancer Services can help set realistic goals that can lead to larger lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle changes to consider:
- Stop tobacco use
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Eat healthier
- Exercise regularly
- Manage stress
What We Offer
Many services are available to support you in survivorship:
A nurse navigator can help guide you, your family and your caregiver through the health care system.
As your central point of contact, your nurse navigator will help coordinate care among your physicians, assess your supportive service needs and provide emotional support.
Cancer survivors experience many different emotions through their treatment and beyond. OSF Cancer Services provide counselors to help you work through these feelings.
Some survivors find it helpful to talk or do activities with people who know what they are going through from firsthand experience.
Support groups let you talk to other survivors and share feelings and experiences that seem difficult to share with family and friends. This group experience can create a sense of belonging that helps each person feel less alone and more understood and may help reduce stress.
OSF START activities and groups bring survivors together in a “safe” and judgment-free zone to have fun, share stories, laugh or even cry.
One of the greatest benefits of financial navigation during survivorship is preventing financial stress. Our financial navigator will help you through the insurance process, to provide financial assistance, and direct you to community resources.
Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy body weight are very important for cancer survivors.
Our START dietitian will educate you on how to make nutritious food choices, guide you in planning healthy meals and assist you in finding reliable nutrition resources.
The dietitian will work with your personal preferences to create an individualized plan to maximize your health and quality of life through optimal nutrition.
With the START Program, we offer simple solutions to address fatigue and get you moving again.
Incorporating aerobic/cardio exercise and strength training into your life can help prevent a recurrence of your cancer and can also help prevent new cancer.
Working with an exercise physiologist one-on-one or in a group setting is available to help your feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Dedicated physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists help cancer survivors achieve optimal health and maximal function by using the most current and effective research-based protocols.
Cancer rehabilitation services benefit patients across the spectrum from those newly diagnosed to those experiencing late effects from treatment.
Intimacy issues and concerns after surgery and/or radiation are real and are noted as a major source of distress among cancer survivors.
The Intimacy Clinic at OSF Cancer Services gives a multidisciplinary approach to help with these concerns.
The team consists of an advanced practice provider, pelvic floor physical therapist and a counselor who work together to help manage and improve intimacy.
Palliative care is any form of treatment and support that concentrates on reducing a person’s symptoms or treatment-related side effects and has been shown to improve the quality of life by supporting both patients and families.
The clinic at OSF Cancer Services approaches care as holistic by caring for the body, the mind and the spirit. The clinic uses a multi-disciplinary approach with trained medical professionals who will take the time to listen to your concerns.
If you are interested in survivorship support and services, be sure to talk to your cancer care and support team or call (309) 308-0200 for more information.