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Published on January 25, 2019

Adjusting to a New Normal: Cancer Survivorship

Survivor

A cancer diagnosis causes many people’s lives to come to a screeching halt. Life is normal, but being faced with the thought of one’s own mortality can be overwhelming. Once a patient is finished with their acute phase of survivorship (their surgeries and treatments, such as chemo and radiation), their appointments become much less frequent and it is easy to feel lost in transition. This is due to many factors. Their role changes at home, work or in their circle of friends, and they can experience fear of recurrence or a financial impact of their care. That’s when patients must adjust to a new normal, and coping with that is often a challenge.

As patients transition to extended survivorship for their routine follow-up and monitoring, Cone Health offers a survivorship care plan that takes a closer look at what a patient has been through, then tailors a plan based on their needs and treatment plan from their oncology team. For example, if someone had breast cancer, the plan would review:

* Tumor type and testing they have undergone.

* Type of treatment.

* Side effects from the treatment.

* Additional resources available.

This is a time for reflection on their initial phase of their cancer journey, celebration, planning regarding their follow-up and any surveillance needed during that time period. This meeting time also gives the patient’s cancer team the opportunity to screen and identify those who may be feeling lost with their transition.

Because many patients can get “lost in transition,” it’s critical to find support from those who have also gone through the same thing, or trained professionals who have experience in helping survivors such as social workers and chaplains. Cone Health has a number of free support groups, classes and support staff for cancer survivors that offer help, including Finding Your New Normal at Cone Health Cancer Center at Wesley Long Hospital. The group meets for 2 hours, once a week, for 8 weeks and helps ease the transition for survivors to a new normal after cancer and treatment.

The Cancer Support Group at Cone Health Cancer Center at Annie Penn Hospital in Reidsville is another option along with the Community Cancer Survivorship Series at Cone Health Cancer Center at Alamance Regional Medical Center. To learn more about support groups and classes offered in your community, visit conehealth.com/classes.

Lindsey Causey, ANP, is a survivorship nurse practitioner with Cone Health Cancer Center. She received her bachelor’s in nursing from Western Carolina University and her master’s in nursing at Duke University. She is a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the Oncology Nursing Society and the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

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