National Cancer Survivors Day: Every year on the first Sunday in June, the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation celebrates the day to spread awareness and information about the survivors of the deadly disease. The day gives cancer survivors hope that life after diagnosis can also be full and fruitful. This year, National Cancer Survivors Day is celebrated on June 5. (Also read: Fighting Cancer? Expert-Approved Mental Health Tips to Stay Resilient)
Care after cancer is equally important and one should adopt positive lifestyle practices to live a healthy life. Certain side effects of cancer treatment persist and others occur months or even years after treatment. Some people return to the lives they led before their diagnosis, while others’ lives have been significantly changed by their cancer experience. The challenge for any survivor is to figure out how to return to everyday life while adapting to the effects of the disease and its treatment.
“Cancer care does not always end when active treatment has ended. After cancer treatment has been completed, your doctor may continue to monitor your recovery, treat any lingering side effects, and check that the cancer has not returned. Your follow-up care plan may include regular physical exams and/or medical tests in the coming months and years,” says Dr. Atul Narayankar, Medical Oncology Consultant, Wockhardt Hospitals Mira Road, if you are a cancer survivor and have recently battled the disease.
It may take you a while to get over the effects of cancer treatment. That is why it is important to follow a balanced lifestyle. Follow these tips from Dr. Narayankar if you are a cancer survivor and have recently battled the disease.
Stop using tobacco
Tobacco cessation is the single most important change a person can make to lower their risk of cancer in the future. Tobacco has been linked to an increased risk of at least 15 types of cancer. If you smoke or use tobacco, making an effort to quit can also improve your recovery and overall health. Exposure to secondhand smoke is also dangerous, so other household members should be encouraged to quit smoking as well.
Watch out for repetition
One of the goals of aftercare is to check for cancer recurrence. A recurrence is when the cancer comes back after treatment. Cancer can return because some cancer cells remain in the body. Over time, these cells may increase in number until they show up on test results or cause signs or symptoms. Depending on the type of cancer, this can happen weeks, months, or even many years after the original cancer was treated.
Dealing with late and long-term side effects
Most people expect side effects during treatment. However, it is often surprising to survivors that some side effects can persist after treatment, the so-called long-term side effects, or that other side effects
can develop months or even years later, the so-called late effects. Other health problems you have, such as diabetes or heart disease, can also be made worse by cancer treatment. These long-term effects are specific to certain types of treatment and usually develop over time.
Keep a personal health record
As time goes by, it can be difficult to remember every detail of your diagnosis and treatment plan. At the same time, this information is very valuable to the doctors and clinicians who will care for you throughout your life. To keep track of key information about their diagnosis and treatment, many survivors, with the help of a member of their health care team, complete a cancer treatment summary and keep it with their health records.