Life After Cancer Treatment
The treatment portion of your cancer journey is over...now what?
Survivorship Care Plans
The CDC defines a Survivorship Care Plan as "a complete record of your cancer history, treatments given, the need for future checkups and cancer tests, possible long-term effects of the treatment, and ideas for staying healthy. The plan needs to identify which health care providers are responsible for your care."
Upon completion of your cancer treatment, someone from your oncology care team should create and discuss your personalized Henry Ford Survivorship Care Plan with you. The purpose of a Survivorship Care Plan is to:
- Summarize your cancer treatment
- Improve quality of life post-treatment
- Improve quality of care
Caring for your body after cancer treatment
Once cancer treatment is over, you will be eager to return to good health. But besides just recovering from the effects cancer surgery or treatment had on your body, there are other ways you can improve your long-term health, to enjoy survivorship with the highest possible quality of life. Here’s what you can do:
- Identify and treat cancer treatment side effects. Side effects that go untreated can lower your quality of life.
- Get genetic testing. Talk to your care team to see if you are a candidate for genetic testing. Genetic testing will help identify if you have a hereditary risk for certain types of cancer, and allow your care team to be extra vigilant. Family members may also benefit from genetic testing if your cancer was a hereditary type
- Make a plan for follow-up care. talk to your doctor about what routine check-ups and cancer screenings you will need to check for signs of recurrence or new cancers as early as possible.
- Make healthy choices:
- Avoid all forms of tobacco
- Limit alcohol use
- Avoid over-exposure to the sun or tanning beds
- Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise and be physically active
Caring for your mind after cancer treatment
Finishing your cancer treatment can sometimes feel lonely or isolating after getting used to the many trips to treatment and interactions with your care team. You may feel anxious or depressed about the possibility of a cancer recurrence, or have trouble concentrating or remembering things because of your cancer treatments. You are not alone. Support groups, classes, and retreats are available especially for survivors, along with oncology behavioral health specialists.
- Gilda’s Club: a support group for adults who have completed cancer treatment.
- The Lake House: wellness programs and social groups.
- Cancer Survivor Retreat
"It's a New Day" is a weekend retreat held three times a year for women moving forward after cancer treatment; to celebrate life and find comfort, strength and restoration. Through the hearts2love organization.
Location: Emrich Retreat Center in Brighton, MI
Cost: $35 fee includes two nights lodging, activities and all meals.
Contact: (734) 674-8000
- Talk with your care team about a referral to a psychologist or oncology social worker.
Be inspired by these Henry Ford Cancer Institute patients as they share the story of their cancer journey. Read stories from patients with the following cancer types:
These websites have comprehensive information and resources for survivors about life after cancer:
- The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) offers an interactive survivorship handbook that outlines issues survivors may face, information on supportive services, with space to take notes and ideas for questions to ask providers.
- Sexuality after cancer -- The Henry Ford Sexual Health Clinic helps patients with sexual problems or concerns after cancer.