National Cancer Survivor Month: Life After Cancer
Cancer affects the lives of millions of Americans and their families. The daily struggle of living with cancer and adjusting to life after recovery or remission can be challenging to work through. Having a positive outlook and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is beneficial when dealing with the aftermath of cancer.
To help raise awareness about living as a cancer survivor, June was designated as National Cancer Survivor Month, with June 7th named National Cancer Survivors Day. These special events exist as a celebration for those who have survived cancer. Here, we highlight helpful information about how to stay healthy and positive as a cancer survivor.
While many of the statistics about cancer and survival rates can seem frightening, there are signs that our nation’s ability to treat cancer is improving. As a result of the improvements toward conventional and holistic cancer treatments, more people are surviving cancer than ever before. It is estimated that over 16.9 million cancer survivors are living in the United States. This number is expected to reach 22 million by 2030. The growth in cancer survivors does not mean that the cancer rate is rising. In fact, it has declined over the past ten years. Sixty-four percent of all cancer survivors live at least five years after their initial diagnosis, with a significant amount of these survivors living long and fulfilling lives.
The largest group of male cancer survivors are men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. They make up 43 percent of all male cancer survivors as of 2014. The largest group of female cancer survivors are women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. This group makes up 41 percent of all female cancer survivors. Some types of cancer, including colorectal and melanoma, have similar survival rates among both men and women.
Life after cancer
Cancer survivors often face increased physical, financial and mental burdens from their diagnosis and treatment. They also have a higher risk of being diagnosed with the same cancer again, as well as other cancers or health conditions. Fortunately, cancer survivors can take steps to help ensure they are able to live healthy and positive lives and prevent long-term side effects.
Mental health issues
Cancer survivors may face mental health issues like depression, anxiety and PTSD. It is best to be proactive in dealing with these issues, instead of ignoring them and letting them become worse. Joining a cancer support group that is designed to provide people who have been affected by cancer with a platform is a great idea. These groups allow members to connect and have conversations with people who are in the same situation. Cancer survivors can use these groups as a way to feel less alone in their struggles.
Other physical health issues
Cancer survivors are at a higher risk of developing other health problems later on. So, it is crucial to stay in contact with a cancer care team. Ask if the treatments you had put you at an increased risk for other health problems, what these problems are, how you can recognize them, what to do when you notice them and how you can be as healthy as possible. Do not hesitate to ask more questions or request additional support.
Cancer survivors who had to undergo treatment often find themselves with a large amount of debt. Chemotherapy, medication and other cancer-related expenses are expensive and can cause a significant financial burden. Fortunately, some organizations provide funding for people who are struggling to deal with the financial effects of surviving cancer. If you are finding it difficult to keep up with your medical bills, these organizations can be a great help.
No one should have to live through cancer alone. Whether you are suffering from mental, physical or financial issues related to cancer, there are organizations that are designed to assist you. Do not be afraid to reach out and find out how these organizations can help make your life easier after cancer. The following is a list of resources and events for cancer survivors.
- American Institute for Cancer Research
- Cancer and Careers
- Cancer Support Community
- Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition
- National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
- National Cancer Survivors Day on June 7
The thought of life as a cancer survivor can be frightening. But, reality does not have to be. Living a healthy lifestyle and taking care of your mental health are crucial first steps on the road to prolonged recovery and sustained health. When you need help along the way, take advantage of the many resources that are available to you. At the end of every day, celebrate the fact that you fought cancer and won.
For more information about how to remain healthy as a cancer survivor, contact us today.