Sitting here I was reading an interesting article out of Living With Cancer magazine about "Survivorship Medicine". I thought I'd write about it now so I didn't have to steal the magazine but I see more than one so I'll just go ahead and "lift" this one! Don't tell on me now! Survivorship medicine is a new and growing field. It is practiced by healthcare professionals whose job it is to help cancer patients after treatment so that they're prepared to do everything medically necessary to prevent a recurrence and maximize their overall health. Survivorship medicine also concerns itself with emotional and psychological problems survivors can encounter, as well as with their nutrition, exercise, stress and sexual health. After treatment, all cancer patients (call us survivors, please) need survivorship care planning, beginning with a summary of the treatment they have had that spells out what can happen next. What medical risks could you face as a result of your treatment? What special tests will you need to make sure that other aspects of your health haven't been compromised by the treatment you've had? All I can say is "It's about damn time!" Almost everything that I've read from survivors is how abandoned they felt once treatment ended since they no longer had the support of the medical staff or the other chemo patients.
Dr. Michael L. Krychman, MD, who specializes in survivorship medicine at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, California says that the biggest challenge for a survivor is how a cancer diagnosis impacts their relationships and the way they interact with the people close to them. After diagnosis, you are a different person. He notes that eventually you may be able to take control, become stronger and more powerful than you were before (Oh, I like the sound of that! Look out my peons-you just might not like the new "Tami"). LOL, just kidding! He also warns that you still have to cope with the emotional reactions of the other people in your life, such as anger, fear, frustration, depression, and feelings of helplessness. (I say, "Hell, I'm not your counselor!"). You can help them by doing normal things together and help yourself by expressing your feelings of hurt when some friends back away because of their own fears and failings. (You certainly find out who your friends are!). Wow, reading back over this makes me think I must have taken a double-dose of smart-ass pills this morning!