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It is estimated that two out of three people diagnosed with cancer will live five years or longer after their initial diagnosis. Healthcare professionals advise that the quality of care after a patient has entered remission will have a profound impact on the life expectancy of a survivor. Therefore, it’s very important to develop a survivorship plan to help you and your loved ones enjoy life every given day and adjust to your new normal.
Survivors often worry about what they should and shouldn't tell their doctors when it comes to new symptoms and health concerns. If a symptom is worrisome or seems unusual, then plan on talking openly with your doctor about it. Your doctor can only provide you with quality care and the most effective treatments if they have an accurate picture of your health and what you’re dealing with. When you visit your doctor for post-cancer check-ups, share the following information:
- New symptoms or pain that is bothering you
- Physical problems, including fatigue, insomnia, sexual problems, weight gain or loss
- New health problems, like high blood pressure or arthritis
- Medications, vitamins, supplements or herbs that you’re taking
- Emotional problems you’re experiencing
- Changes in your medical history
- Anything you would like more information about, like new research or special medications
Keep Written Records
Take time after the completion of your cancer treatment to compile your medical records into a folder or binder to accompany you on your future doctor’s appointments. You’ll also want to keep written records regarding how you’re feeling, side effects you’re experiencing, things that make you feel worse and what makes you feel better. You can track this information and share it with your doctor so treatments and care can be adjusted as necessary. You may think that you’ll remember all of this information, but it’s best to keep a record and write down any questions you have.
Healthy Lifestyle Changes
While there is no singular guarantee for preventing cancer recurrence, taking care of your body will certainly improve your quality of life. Feeding your body with nutrient-rich foods is an essential component for improving your quality of life. Eating healthy is a good way to keep your immune system strong and better prepared to fight illness and disease.
Regular exercise is also important for several reasons. In addition to improving your general health, exercise also improves your mood and increases self-esteem. This can be particularly important if you’re struggling with depression and anxiety after your battle with cancer.
Find a Support System
Your support group isn’t just important in the early days when you’re first diagnosed with cancer, these loved one continue to be important as you transition to your post-cancer life. Besides the people who were there for you during your cancer treatment, seek out a community group with other cancer survivors and patients to help share your knowledge and experience with patients who are fighting a similar fight. Your story and experience could be a source of inspiration for a current patient.