Our Education & Outreach Coordinator, Rachel, had the pleasure of leading a break out session titled, Getting Informed About Long-Term Follow-Up Care at Stupid Cancer’s Cancer Con, 2017. Here we outline what was shared.
Survivorship is a distinct phase in care!
Per the Institute of Medicine’s 2006 report, From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor, survivorship care includes
- prevention and detection of new cancers
- surveillance and assessment for medical and psychosocial late effects
- intervention for consequences of cancer and its treatment
- coordination among specialists and primary care providers to ensure that all the survivor’s health needs are met
Half of the attendees indicated they had NOT received a Survivorship Care Plan. After listing the components of a Treatment Summary and providing a detailed overview of the Long-Term Follow-Up Care Plans that are provided in our clinic, Rachel provided tips on how survivors can advocate for their own survivorship care
Advocate for Survivorship Care
- If you do not have a Survivorship Care Plan: Ask your oncologist who will provide your plan, what impact your cancer/treatment may have on your future health, what late effects you are at risk for now and in the future, who should you see about late effects and what tests should you have.
- When moving into survivorship care, include a Survivorship Specialist (a provider who has experience in oncology and stays on top of the evolving care guidelines) and your Primary Care Physician (who you see for general health concerns and immunizations) into your care team.
- Learn what you can do to enhance prevention and surveillance of future health concerns such as quit smoking, protect your skin from the sun/tanning beds, practice safe sex, eat a balanced diet, avoid physical inactivity and promote emotional wellness.
A major theme of this year’s conference was practicing self-care, and being okay with who and where you are at this moment in your cancer journey. Julie Larson, LCSW, told conference attendees at the start of the weekend that it was okay to focus on being a cancer survivor and encouraged exploring, reimagining, and forgiving aspects that come along with being a survivor.
Jean Rowe, LCSW, OSW-C, CJT, shared exercises on how to practice self-care during her Journal Writing break out session:
- Start with a word (contentment, power, inspiration or acceptance), then see where your pen takes you;
- Recall a specific (summer) memory and describe smells, sights, tastes, feelings;
- If you are feeling a strong emotion (anger, guilt) characterize it. What does anger look like? Is it male or female? Describe that feeling like you would a person. Try to write for 3-5 minutes at a time
At the closing session, Sage Bolte, PhD, LCSW, OSW-C, CST, spoke about being your authentic self. She noted that anyone who has been touched by cancer knows suffering and emphasized the importance of self-compassion. Self-compassion is a skill that can be developed through methods such as looking at yourself in the mirror every day and naming one thing you will do to show yourself kindness and then not feeling guilty if you don’t actually accomplish that task.