Mission Hope Cancer Center
donate to mhcc IThrivePlan

Survivorship Strategies

After Cancer…
Getting Back in Charge of Your Wellness

Rediscover your ability to create wellness
• Have you met with Sean Hunt, RN, BSN, OCN (Cancer Care Navigator/ Survivorship Program) to have your “Survivorship Care Plan” designed? Please call 805.346.3401.

• Meet your fitness goals by starting your 12-week Cancer Rehabilitation Program with John Malinowski, ATC, CET. Please call 805.346.3413.

Many survivors describe the transition into survivorship as more frightening than when they were diagnosed. During treatment, patients are asked to follow strict instructions while being given few choices. After treatment, survivors abruptly find themselves having to determine their own path, sometimes under very different circumstances. It’s not surprising that anxiety runs high among cancer survivors. As challenging as the transition to survivorship is, though, there may be a blessing within the challenge.

When you were diagnosed with cancer, things probably started to happen really fast. You were given a treatment plan based on standard medical protocol. Your care team showed up and your treatment schedule was set. Chances are you agreed to the plan before you had time to think things through. You were just grateful for the help at a time when it felt like your life was on the line. The day treatment ended, your team wished you well, told you to come back for screening in a few months, and said goodbye. There you were: tired and overwhelmed, with no idea what to do from then until your follow-up appointment. The accompanying sense of helplessness also fuels fear of cancer recurrence, which at some level affects the majority of survivors. However, the blessing within the challenge is that survivorship provides an opportunity to become re-empowered: to rediscover your own ability to create wellness and with it, peace of mind.

Empowerment is active practice of your power to make choices and solve problems. Exciting recent research shows that survivors with greater ability to solve problems and see the opportunities within challenges are less distressed and less fearful of cancer recurrence. It may feel new to now have primary responsibility for making conscious choices regarding your wellness. Stay out of overwhelm by taking it one step at a time.

Here are some simple ways to start rebuilding your “empowerment muscles”:

• Tune in to your own needs: Gently notice where your needs differ from your pre-cancer routine. Do you need more rest? More help with certain tasks? Someone to talk to who really understands what you’ve been through? Awareness of your real needs is the first step to re-empowerment.

• Ask for support: There are professionals available to help with just about any wellness issue you may be struggling with, from coping with physical changes to the emotional fallout of this journey. Your oncologist, primary care physician, Oncology Nurse Navigator, or one of the Mission Hope Cancer Center support team can refer you to helpful resources. Keep asking until you find the help you need.

• Recommit to your self-care: Cancer often awakens an awareness of the preciousness of good health. Every day you have dozens of opportunities to build good health as you choose what to eat, when to go to bed or how to spend your time. Each choice that points you in the direction of good health empowers you while reducing your chances of future illness. Remember to celebrate yourself for making healthful choices!