Just like a cancer diagnosis, no two journeys or experiences with cancer are the same. The same can be said for cancer survivorship. In this blog, we will outline some of the facts about cancer survivorship, who can be considered as a cancer survivor, and explore the resources and supports available to help you, at every step.
What is cancer survivorship?
Cancer survivorship begins at the time of diagnosis and continues until end of life and is referred to as ‘living with and beyond cancer’. Effectively, this means that anyone currently on, or out the other side of a cancer treatment is on a survivorship journey.
When does cancer survivorship start?
Cancer survivorship means many different things to many different people. For those who have come out the other side of cancer treatment and are in remission, survivorship could mean coming to terms with a “new normal” and getting back to work after cancer. For those currently on a cancer journey or living with a metastatic cancer, survivorship could entail pain management, ensuring you are staying mentally, and physically well, and manage relationships with those close to you and outside carers.
No matter what survivorship means to you, there are supports available to help you on your journey.
How many cancer survivors are there in Ireland?
Research shows that to date, there are almost 200,000 cancer survivors living in Ireland. Due to advances in treatment options, clinical trials, cancer screening and early detection, more people than ever before are coming out the other side of cancer treatment.
What are the main issues involved with cancer survivorship?
As we have mentioned before, no two cancer journeys are the same. However, some of the more common issues survivors face can include:
Conditions like reduced mobility, fertility issues, memory changes and lymphoedema may occur as a by product of cancer treatment and while difficult, it does not have to mean the end of your normal life. We refer to life after cancer treatment ends as adapting to your new normal. For information and resource on how to cope with the physical manifestations of cancer treatment, click here.
Due to cancer treatment, many people need to adapt their diet to compensate for their new nutritional needs. You can work in partnership with your medical team and your GP to create a diet plan that ensures you are receiving all the nutrients you need to keep your body healthy. For more advice on managing new nutritional needs, click here.
Exercise is not only great for your body, but it can do wonders for your mental health. Working in conjunction with your medical team, a simple and non-invasive exercise plan while on or after cancer treatment can do wonders for your daily routine. You should always speak to your team before taking on a new exercise, but for some helpful tips on exercise at every step of your cancer journey, click here.
Putting together a plan is a great habit to get in to, no matter where you are on your cancer journey. If you are currently on cancer treatment, planning out treatment dates, time to recover, rest days and days for fun can make your routine much more manageable. For those out the other side of treatment, returning to work may be a priority for you. For information on how to get your planning started while managing your expectations, click here.
Once treatment ends, many people experience a lot of difficult to process emotions such as anxiety, depression, and fear. This is totally normal, but for those going through it, emotions like these can make you feel even more isolated from those you care about. However, there are tips, and support networks available to help your through these emotions.
Survivorship Support and Programmes:
No matter where you are on your cancer journey, it’s important to know that you are not alone. At the Marie Keating Foundation we have a number of free support programmes available for you.
To learn more about our six week Survive&Thrive programme, click here.
If you are living with an advanced cancer diagnosis our Positive Living Groups for men and women can provide the support you need. To find out more click here.
For advice and information on how to cope mentally and physically while on or after cancer treatment, click here.
For more support, information and advice on cancer , awareness, and support, visit our website at www.mariekeating.ie