What is a survivorship plan, and why should I have one as a cancer survivor?

The transition from treatment to life after treatment can be difficult; although, until recently, few recognized it as such.

In 2005, the Institute of Medicine published a report recognizing both the emotional and physical difficulties faced by cancer survivors. They found that there are many shortfalls in care provided to the estimated 13 million cancer survivors in the country. One of their recommendations was that all patients have a survivorship plan.

There are many questions that a cancer survivor faces, including but not limited to:

  • What doctor should I see?
  • What tests should I get done and how often?
  • How do I manage the side effects of my cancer and treatment?
  • Will the cancer come back?

A survivorship plan helps answer these questions and more.

Before your last treatment, begin talking to your doctor about creating a survivorship plan. Some experts even recommend creating this plan from the very beginning of treatment. The plan should contain a treatment summary with a full listing of all the care you have received, information on follow-up care, looking for signs of recurrent and new cancers, what doctor to see and personalized recommendations for nutrition, exercise or other rehabilitation needs.

There are many templates and resources available to help guide patients and their health team in making an individualized survivorship plan.

Cancer Services will also provide individualized help with creating a survivorship plan for your emotional and spiritual needs as well. You can call the office to speak with our Survivorship Coordinator, Natalie Depp, to get started on creating your own plan.

If you are interested in other survivorship activities, Cancer Services will be hosting their 19th Annual Celebration of Life, for National Cancer Survivors Day, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on June 1. All cancer survivors, both in and out of treatment, and their friends and family are invited to attend.

For more information contact Courtney Britton, librarian at Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge at (225) 927-2273, cbritton@cancerservices.org , or visit the Education Center at 550 Lobdell Ave., Baton Rouge.

ä Internet Resources:

Institute of Medicine 2005 Report summary

iom.edu/Reports/2005/From-Cancer-Patient-to-Cancer-Survivor-Lost-in-Transition.aspx

Survivorship Care Planning - National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship

canceradvocacy.org/living-with-cancer/planning-your-care/

Livestrong Care Plan – powered by Penn Med

oncolink.org/oncolife/

This column is presented as a service by Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, a United Way affiliate.