Who are Cancer Survivors?
“Cancer Survivor” is a term commonly referred to as someone who has a history of cancer.
For some survivors the term “survivor” is not appealing. They may prefer to identify as being “a person who has had cancer” or perhaps they are dealing with cancer every day and see themselves as someone who is “living with cancer.”
Living life with a history of cancer will affect each person differently. Yet a common thread is true for most, that life is different after cancer. Some common reactions to cancer include a deeper appreciation for life, greater self-acceptance, and not knowing how to cope post-treatment.
What is Survivorship?
Survivorship is having no signs of cancer after finishing treatment or living with, through, and beyond cancer. Cancer survivorship begins at diagnosis and includes people who continue to have treatment over the long term, to either reduce the risk of recurrence or to manage chronic disease.
What to expect now that treatment is over
Treatment is over. Now what? A patient’s safety net of regular, frequent contact with the health care team ends. Survivors may experience a wide range of emotions such as relief that treatment is over, uncertainty about the future, loss of support, increased anxiety, fear or recurrence, guilt of surviving when friends or loved ones have lost a battle with cancer, and physical, psychological, or relational struggles.
When active treatment is over, some survivors’ needs change and they may experience a shift in relationships. Perhaps some friends may become closer, while others distance themselves, or family members can become over protective.
It is important to realize the entire family changes from the cancer experience in ways they may be unaware of. It is possible to get the support needed while working through these changes. It is vital to maintain open and ongoing communication.
Getting back to work
Resuming a regular work schedule is a sign of getting back to a normal routine and lifestyle. Most people need their job and the health insurance it provides.
People with cancer may work during treatment while others take time off for treatment and return to work afterwards.
You may notice when you return to work that coworkers may want to help but not know how. Perhaps you experience being treated differently or unfairly when compared to pre-cancer treatment.
When transitioning back to the workforce it is important to realize that choosing when and how to discuss a diagnosis is a personal decision. You may want to try to anticipate questions from coworkers both during and after treatment and decide in advance how you want to answer.
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