Every year, the first Sunday of June is celebrated as National Cancer Survivors Day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 14 million people
who have been diagnosed with cancer are living in the United States today. Cancer death rates are continuing to decline because of improvements in cancer
prevention, detection and treatment.
While it’s great news that more people are now overcoming the fight against cancer, it doesn’t mean life is easy once cancer treatment is over.
Cancer survivors can face a number of external and internal obstacles – physically, financially and emotionally. Some of these hardships can include the
- Likelihood to develop a second cancer or other health conditions
Challenges finding or continuing employment
Mixed emotions, depression and/or anxiety
- Fear of recurrence, which is fear of cancer returning once treatment is over
Here are some ways you can stay happy and healthy post-cancer.
Be aware of what is happening to your body. Cancers generally have predictable recurrence patterns (Cancer.net), so keep a close eye for any symptoms and make sure
to pay attention to your health. Create a follow-up plan with your care provider and discuss recommended medical tests. Follow-up cancer care is important
in identifying any significant changes to your health.
Keep Your Medical Records
Keep organized copies of your medical records to avoid complications when going to the doctor, pharmacy or other care services. An organized file of all
your medications, treatments, operations and diagnoses can come in handy!
Communicate your emotions and fears with your doctors, your family and your friends. Individual counseling and support groups are two great resources that
can help you cope, no matter what or how you’re feeling.
Weight control can be beneficial for some cancer survivors. Exercising also helps people cope with anxiety and find mental peace.
Communicate With Your Employer (If Necessary)
Various factors influence when and how you should begin a new job or return to work after cancer, such as the job type and your personal health and
recovery. If you are looking to start a new one, a social worker may be able to assist you with your legal rights as a cancer survivor. Whether you’re in
the job market or returning to your previous job, make sure to communicate with your employer (or potential employer) about any necessary accommodations or
schedule changes. Unless you are seeking such accommodations, you are not required to disclose your health with your employer or coworkers.
Watch Your Nutrition
Be mindful of what you are putting into your body: tobacco included! Smoking can lead to cancer recurrence or ignite an additional cancer. Check with your
doctor to see if you have any food or diet restrictions and work with your physicians to develop an eating plan that’s right for you.
Needless to say, being fit is a great way to stay healthy whether you have cancer or not. Studies have shown that increased physical activity can reduce
the risk of recurrence for various cancers, including breast cancer and colorectal cancer (Web MD).
In addition to increasing life expectancy after cancer, exercise can reduce fatigue and fight off depression and anxiety, thus improving your mood. Once
you have discussed what kinds of physical activity is best for you with your physician, get moving!
While survivorship isn’t picture perfect, remember that you can still have a fulfilling life after cancer.