Survivorship

Survivorship

In cancer, survivorship covers the physical, psychosocial, and economic issues of cancer, from diagnosis until the end of life. It focuses on the health and life of a person with cancer beyond the diagnosis and treatment phases. Survivorship includes issues related to the ability to get health care and follow-up treatment, late effects of treatment, second cancers, and quality of life. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also part of the survivorship experience.

Getting Involved

While some people prefer to put their experiences with cancer behind them, many choose to draw on them to get involved with cancer-related activities. They may feel that there are certain areas or issues where there’s more work to be done. Or perhaps someone helped and inspired them during treatment, and they feel it’s their turn to give to others. People often feel that they can make a difference in cancer by taking part. They may want to learn how to help their neighbors, join an educational group, run in a race, or be a part of a group that makes decisions about cancer research or programs.

It is natural for anyone who has completed cancer treatment to be concerned about what the future holds. Many people are concerned about the way they look and feel, and about what they can do to keep the cancer from recurring (coming back). They want to know which doctor will follow them, how often to see the doctor for follow-up appointments, and what tests they should have. Understanding what to expect after cancer treatment can help patients and their loved ones plan for follow-up care, make lifestyle changes, and make important health-related decisions. 

What is follow-up cancer care, and why is it important?

Follow-up cancer care involves regular medical checkups that include a review of a patient’s medical history and a physical exam. Follow-up care may include imaging procedures (methods of producing pictures of areas inside the body), endoscopy (the use of a thin, lighted tube to examine the inside of the body), bloodwork, and other lab tests.

Follow-up care is important because it helps to identify changes in health. The purpose of follow-up care is to check for recurrence (the return of cancer in the primary site) or metastasis (the spread of cancer to another part of the body). Follow-up care visits are also important to help in the prevention or early detection of other types of cancer, address ongoing problems due to cancer or its treatment, and check for physical and psychosocial effects that may develop months to years after treatment ends. All cancer survivors should have follow-up care. 

Comadre Program’s “A Celebration of Life” or “Celebración de Vida,” Recognition Event

A special event is hosted by the Comadre a Comadre program every two years in honor of breast cancer survivors and their loved ones. The event includes a special recognition ceremony with sarape sashes and certificates awarded to each breast cancer survivor. Refreshments, appetizers and free parking is available. The event is free. Survivors, Families and Friends Invited!

A segment from !Adelanté con Esperanza! / Going Forward with Hope. For full-length video, visit coe.unm.edu/comadre.html.