According to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an individual is considered a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis, during and immediately after treatment and through the balance of his or her life. For cancer survivors, the journey after treatment ends can be a joyful experience. For others, new challenges can arise — including the fear of cancer recurrence, loneliness or health problems stemming from rigorous cancer treatments.
At the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center, patients are prepared for their next steps with the help of a survivorship care plan. Accredited by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons, the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute follows the latest standards for providing patients a comprehensive overview of their treatment history, guidelines for monitoring recurrent cancer and various supportive resources.
Each patient at the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute is provided a survivorship care plan toward the end of their treatment to help manage their health history and follow-up care moving forward. Survivorship care plans help patients not only minimize fear after treatment, but also embrace healthy choices throughout their cancer experience and after treatment as well.
Plans are created by a physician or nurse practitioner and are uniquely tailored to the needs of each individual patient. A timeline of each surgery, scan or therapy underwent during a patient’s cancer treatment is included as a way for them to keep a concise history of their care as they continue to work with their oncologist and primary care physician. Plans also incorporate monitoring guidelines to help patients proactively screen for any reemergent cancer, including timeframes for follow-up scans or lab work.
Once treatment ends, cancer survivors may need psychosocial support programs to help them navigate difficult feelings about their cancer experience. Survivors can find a variety of cancer specific support groups to help manage the anxieties and stress recovery can bring. These support groups help survivors find comfort by connecting with other people going through similar experiences.
Survivorship groups, such as Women Guiding Women or Boost the Odds provide cancer survivors the opportunity to share their story and guide one another through their new beginning. Events and seminars are regularly hosted to educate cancer survivors on ways to maintain a healthy, balanced life.
“Our patients enjoy attending psychosocial support groups during their recovery to help relieve any concerns they may have about their next step,” says Lori Tritto, MSN, OCN, NPD-BC, director, clinical operations, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, Long Beach Medical Center. “Undergoing treatment can be an overwhelming process, but these support services give patients the opportunity to reduce their stress and fear.”
Other resources available for cancer survivors include rehabilitation therapies, nutritional services, social workers and fertility preservation through local community programs. Survivors can work with their oncologist or nurse practitioner and request these support services throughout the course of their cancer treatment and survivorship care.