National Cancer Survivors Day: Every year on the first Sunday in June, National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation observes the day to spread awareness and information about and honour the survivors of the deadly disease. The day gives cancer survivors hope that life after diagnosis can be full and fruitful too. This year National Cancer Survivors Day is being celebrated on June 5. (Also read: Fighting cancer? Expert-approved mental health tips to stay resilient)
Post cancer care is equally important and one must adopt positive lifestyle practices to lead a healthy life. Certain side-effects of cancer treatment linger on and the others emerge months or even years after treatment. Some people return to the lives they were leading before their diagnosis, while the lives of others are significantly changed by their cancer experience. The challenge for every survivor is figuring out how to return to everyday life while adjusting to the effects of the disease and its treatment.
“Cancer care does not always end when active treatment finishes. After cancer treatment is completed, your doctor may continue to monitor your recovery, manage any lingering side effects, and check to make sure the cancer has not returned. Your follow-up care plan may include regular physical examinations and/or medical tests during the coming months and years,” says Dr Atul Narayankar, Consultant Medical Oncology, Wockhardt Hospitals Mira Road, if you are a cancer survivor and have recently battled the disease.
One can take time to get over the effects of cancer treatment. Hence, it’s important to follow a well-balanced lifestyle. Follow these tips by Dr Narayankar if you are a cancer survivor and have recently battled the disease.
Stop tobacco use
Stopping tobacco use is the most important change a person can make to lower future cancer risk. Tobacco is linked to an increased risk of at least 15 types of cancer. If you smoke or use tobacco of any kind, making an effort to quit can also improve your recovery and overall health. Exposure to secondhand smoke is also dangerous, so other members of the household should be encouraged to quit smoking, too.
Watch for recurrence
One goal of follow-up care is to check for a recurrence of cancer. A recurrence is when the cancer comes back after treatment. Cancer may recur because some cancer cells remain in the body. Over time, these cells may increase in number until they show up on test results or cause signs or symptoms. Depending on the type of cancer, this can happen weeks, months, or even many years after the original cancer was treated.
Managing late and long-term side effects
Most people expect to experience side effects during treatment. However, it is often surprising to survivors that some side effects may linger after treatment, called long-term side effects, or that other side effects
may develop months or even years later, called late effects. Other health conditions you may have, such as diabetes or heart disease, may also be made worse by cancer treatment. These long-term effects are specific to certain types of treatment and usually develop within a defined time.
Keep a personal health record
As time passes, it can be difficult to remember every detail of your diagnosis and treatment plan. At the same time, this information is very valuable to the doctors and clinicians who will care for you throughout your lifetime. To keep track of the most important information about their diagnosis and treatment, many survivors fill out a cancer treatment summary with the help of a member of their health care team and keep it with their health records.