LIFE AFTER CANCER


Let's explore what life looks like after cancer and an interview with a cancer survivor.


Unfortunately being a cancer survivor may also mean experiencing long-term side effects of cancer treatment. Although life-saving, treatment can cause health conditions that may affect the quality of life for cancer survivors. After intensive treatment, it comes as no surprise that cancer survivors have to deal with life-altering long-term side effects. These may include dental tooth decay, hearing problems, infertility, lung disease, and an increased risk of developing other cancers or cardiovascular incidents [1].


Staying healthy after cancer treatment

After cancer treatment, cancer survivors are advised to visit the doctor's office for routine checkups to help identify early signs of new or recurring cancer. There's however lifestyle changes that can be made on the patient side to prevent this from happening, such as not smoking, minimal alcohol intake, protecting the skin from ultraviolet light, regular activity, and maintaining a healthy weight [2].


The Mental Health of Cancer Survivors

Cancer survivors may struggle mentally due to the financial burden of the treatment cost and the fear that cancer may return. There isn't much conversation around the fact that survivors would have to adjust to the change in the behavior of people around them. People's treatment of a person with cancer may drastically change after being declared cancer-free, and this change can be hard to adjust to. The phenomenon of “chemo brain” which occurs in patients who have received chemotherapy can negatively affect attention span, memory, and cognitive function. Cancer survivors need to have access to mental health services for their spiritual and emotional needs, access to support groups and clinical psychologists is essential [3].


Healthcare After Cancer

To improve post-cancer transition of care it is recommended that the oncology and primary care teams should collaborate on health issues that affect the quality of life such as the management long-term side effects, preventative care, and psychosocial wellness [4].

 

INTERVIEW WITH MARIE


Marie, 54, Cancer Survivor and Medical doctor.


Tell us about your health journey with cancer, and how it has affected you?

The diagnosis came as a shock to me. Cancer is a very bad word; it means death in popular belief. Disbelief in terms of “this can’t be happening to me” and self-victimization in terms of “if I did this, like regular check-ups, this shouldn’t have happened”. I had questions about how my beloved ones will survive if I am gone.