So you have completed your cancer treatment and have been released to return to your “normal” life! First of all, you realize that nothing is or will be the same as it was before your cancer diagnosis. For those around you, there is no understanding about the shift that has occurred for you unless they have also experienced cancer and completed treatment.
And for those patients who find that their fears and concerns about the return of cancer are ruling and ruining their lives, it is my greatest hope that you will let your medical doctor know and request their assistance and referral in finding a professional to deal with these fears. Barbara Jaooby
It is like your cancer is viewed as something like a broken bone where you have gone through surgery to repair it, physical therapy to gain back as close to normal use as before the break but with some understanding that there might be some minimal limitations on the physical use afterwards. But, no thought is even given to how the completion of cancer treatment will never be final for the patient unlike the healing of a broken bone.
Quite often, the patient is returned to the care of their primary care physician with annual physicals being the norm. But, as any breast cancer survivor knows, there are all sorts of other things that they may experience from the various treatments that they were given long after the treatments have been completed. In addition, they might find themselves suddenly experiencing new pains, aches, swellings, etc. for which there is no apparent explanation.
Therefore, I was grateful in doing my latest research on this topic to find an article “New follow-up care guidelines released for breast cancer survivors” to help not only the patients but also medical providers with information and guidelines issued by the American Cancer Society and American Society of Clinical Oncology. This comprehensive guide is something that every patient needs to keep with their other most valued cancer information for reference whenever an issue may arise. And every patient should also be in a position to share this information with their medical team members who may not be aware of its existence and who may not deal with cancer oncology issues on a regular basis.
I believe that most cancer patients always have some lingering concerns about whether their breast cancer may return and metastasize regardless of how far out one has traveled from their final treatment. Whenever a survivor experiences a new twinge or change in their body or in how they are feeling, their thoughts usually run toward a fear that it might be related to their past treatment or the return of their cancer. Hopefully, they will take a beat to see whether whatever it may be goes away on its own but if not, that the guidelines can provide some help in determining its cause and engaging in conversation with your medical team, as necessary.
And for those patients who find that their fears and concerns about the return of cancer are ruling and ruining their lives, it is my greatest hope that you will let your medical doctor know and request their assistance and referral in finding a professional to deal with these fears. You deserve to get the help that you need on every level of your treatment and that includes in dealing with not only the physical but also the mental concerns that you have after treatment ends. After all, if you don’t look out for yourself, who will do so? You must be your own advocate if you want to have the best quality of life possible today and every day for the rest of your life.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.