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Survivorship

While there is growing attention paid to our experiences as cancer survivors, there is little acknowledgment of survivor’s guilt. It is neither well understood nor adequately discussed.
Angela Long is the founder and creator of Breast Investigators. Breast Investigators serves as a comprehensive resource guide to help those affected by breast cancer readily gain access to quality information, care, assistance, and support.
Hair loss was one of the biggest emotional struggles I faced as a young woman with cancer. When I think back about losing my hair to chemo almost 10 years ago, I am struck by how both the cultural norms and headwear options have changed since then.
As a cancer survivor and advocate, it has bewildered me how differently cancer patients and survivors perceive their cancer journeys. This variation in outlook ranges from being stuck in a state of fear, anger, shame, or blame, to viewing cancer as a “gift.”
Although planning for survivorship care is recognized as an important part of the continuum of cancer care, end-of-treatment summaries (TSs) and survivorship care plans (SCPs) are not universally provided to cancer patients, even at centers of excellence.

There is a lack of guidelines when it comes to standard of care for adult cancer survivors, and it is time to start thinking about establishing such guidelines, according to nurse practitioner Richard Boyajian, who is the clinical director of adult survivorship at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts. He said establishing appropriate guidelines could potentially reduce morbidity and mortality.

Globally, there are 20 million cancer survivors, and the number of survivors is expected to grow because people are living longer as a result of newer and better therapies. Many survivors have little or no understanding of the physical, psychosocial, and economic issues that face them for the rest of their lives. Nurses can play a major role in planning survivorship care to help survivors negotiate the next stages of their lives and enjoy a good quality of life.

Our research suggests that health education programs such as SHARE may have an important impact on improving bone health behaviors among adolescent survivors of childhood cancer,” lead author Darren Mays, PhD, MPH, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, tells the Academy of Oncology Nurse Navigators.

Although breastfeeding may be impaired in some survivors of childhood cancers as a result of treatments, such women who are able to successfully breastfeed should do so, because of the protective effects it can impart,1 according to research led by Susan W. Ogg, RN, MSN, a re search nurse in the Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee. “Some nurses work with women and assess their lactation potential throughout pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum,” Ogg said.

Each year, adult cancer survivors spend, on average, $4000 to $5000 more on total medical expenditures than people who have never had cancer, according to a study of survivors younger than 65 years. “These ongoing expenditures signal what oncology nurses already know…when people finish their treatment for cancer, that is not necessarily the end of it. They require ongoing support. There’s a need for heightened surveillance that extends for the rest of their lives.

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