Transitioning from a cancer patient to a cancer survivor signifies that you have physically healed from cancer. It does not mean you’ve physically healed from the effects of chemo. You’re probably still experiencing side effects. Survivorship also doesn’t mean that you have healed emotionally. Emotional wellbeing is much harder to measure. And right now, during yet another life transition, you and your family could be experiencing a lot of different feelings.
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Chemotherapy plays an important role in most cancer patients’ treatment regimens – because it’s very effective at killing fast-growing cancer cells throughout the body. Unfortunately, chemotherapy also kills fast-growing healthy cells. As a result, many cancer patients experience both short- and long-term side effects of chemotherapy.
Most people are familiar with the short-term side effects of chemo, which often include:
It’s no secret that cancer treatment takes an emotional and physical toll on patients. According to the American Cancer Society, the goals of cancer treatment include shrinking cancerous tumors to make them easier to remove surgically, killing cancer cells in the body, and/or controlling cancer so it does not grow and spread. Chemotherapy, steroid medications, and hormonal therapies used to achieve these goals sometimes have unwelcome side effects in cancer survivors, including osteoporosis.
As a cancer survivor, your goal is probably to resume your familiar lifestyle as quickly as possible. You may be feeling more like your old self again with a growing appetite and the ability to enjoy the flavors in food once again. If also enjoyed an alcoholic beverage before cancer, you may be wondering if that’s acceptable after cancer treatment. You may be right to think twice about drinking alcohol after cancer.
When you were being treated for cancer, you probably experienced some unpleasant side effects of the medications and therapies prescribed to treat your cancer. These side effects probably weren’t entirely shocking because you were told to expect them.
Cancer Survivorship and Sleep Disorders
As you transitioned to being a cancer survivor, you probably expected the unpleasant side effects to go away. Fortunately, many of them probably did. One side effect that often continues to affect cancer survivors (or that may develop as a brand-new symptom after cancer treatment is complete) is a sleep disorder. Sleep disorders in cancer patients are most common after chemotherapy. While sleep disturbances usually improve for cancer survivors, lingering sleep problems sometimes last for years after cancer treatment ends.
As a cancer survivor, it’s probably safe to assume that during your journey you’ve developed a true appreciation of life. You know firsthand what it feels like to receive a serious diagnosis, the uncertainties of living with cancer, and the feelings of joy, relief, and gratitude when you beat it. Thanks to your unique life experiences, you may feel compelled to sign up as an organ donor so you can give the gift of life to someone else.
There is a Huge Need for Organ Donors
According to Donate Life Northwest, while 95% of Americans support the idea of being an organ donor, only 56% are registered as organ donors. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS):
A cancer caregiver, whether they are family or a friend, selflessly offers an unparalleled and irreplaceable gift. Caregivers are the most important members of a cancer patient's team on a day-to-day basis. They're the unsung heroes and are always willing to put their loved one's needs before their own.
Caregivers transport their loved one to all their cancer treatment appointments, as well as consults with the cancer specialists on a regular basis to ensure that the patient receives the best treatment and at-home care. At-home care can be everything from making meals to cleaning and laundry – taking over for the things the cancer patient may have normally done for the family.
As a breast cancer patient or breast cancer survivor, it’s important to stay active – even if you don’t feel up to it.
In a recent study by Kerry Courneya, PhD, found that women with breast cancer that participated in a resistance training program during chemotherapy required less dosage and fewer delays in their chemotherapy treatments. Of course, if you’re undergoing breast cancer treatment, you should first discuss exercise with your doctor. For most breast cancer patients, rigorous activity isn’t recommended, but regular moderate exercise, such as walking or strength training with light weights, can help you to feel better, and as strange as it may sound, you might even feel less tired than before you exercised.