According to the 2015 Canadian Cancer Statistics, it is expected that 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetimes. The likelihood of surviving at least 5 years after a cancer diagnosis, in Canada, is 63%.
What affects the survival rates? Major improvements in screening tests, treatments, improved management of side effects, and targeted therapy. Thanks to research we continue to see improvements.
And what is a survivor? According to www.cancer.net, a cancer survivor is someone who has a history of cancer. Although this term does not appeal to all people who have a history of cancer, most will agree that they appreciate life more and have a greater self-acceptance. Unfortunately they may also feel more anxious about their health and don't always know how to cope once treatment is over.
Three phases of survivorship have been identified:
· Acute survivorship begins at diagnosis and goes through to the end of initial cancer treatment. Cancer treatment is the focus.
· Extended survivorship begins at the end of initial cancer treatment and goes through the months after. The effects of cancer and treatment are the focus.
· Permanent survivorship is the period when years have passed since cancer treatment ended and recurrence seems less likely. Long term effects of cancer and treatment are the focus.
So what can one expect? When active treatment ends and the safety net of regular contact with the health care team ends, survivors have different responses, including but not limited to: feeling relief that treatment is over, uncertainty about the future, increased anxiety, fear of recurrence, guilt about surviving, and relationship struggles - while some people become closer, others may distance themselves.
And what you can do? Accept that everyone is affected and maintain open communication to work through issues and concerns. Realize that when and how you choose to discuss a diagnosis is a personal decision. Try to anticipate questions from friends and family both during and after treatment and decide in advance how you want to answer.
More information is available on the following websites:
Canadian Cancer Statistics 2015
Submitted by Tammy Frederick, RN at Carry Drive Clinic