2017 Cancer Survivorship Symposium – a Cancer Survivor Evening

I just finished an evening session with five very dedicated cancer professionals talking to a room full of cancer survivors and caregivers about the issues that are challenging us. I thought I would share some of my key takeaways in bullet form…

  • Young cancer survivors often struggle with the financial aspects of cancer treatment because they have not yet joined the workforce and don’t have insurance or financial resources. The SAMFUND helps in this area.
  • The Dana Farber Cancer Center has an integrative oncology program that includes psychological support, including music therapy, art programs, and acupuncture.
  • It’s important to have an integrated cancer treatment team.
  • Mindful meditation can be a powerful partner.
  • Exercise is important during and after the treatment phase.
  • If you have a rare cancer with no specific treatment, it is a good idea to go to a major cancer center and learn if there is a clinical trial that may help.
  • Survivor networking groups can sometimes develop a bias against a treatment that might work for someone else. It’s important to weight all information and to make sure that the information you use comes from reliable sources.
  • Cancer.net is a good for information.
  • Cancer diagnosis and treatment causes high anxiety. Living with a short lifespan perspective is a mental challenge both for the survivor and for the caregiver and family. Many cancer survivors say that the emotional stress is higher for the caregiver.
  • One major challenge is instilling the need for a healthy lifestyle habit in young cancer survivors who likely have a long life ahead of them. The consensus was that this is something the entire family needs to do, not just the cancer survivor.
  • Preventative medicine need more focus.
  • Cancer can be disempowering. Cancer survivors can regain some control by taking control of their exercise and nutritional habits.
  • Every cancer survivor should have a cancer treatment plan from their oncologist that goes to their family practitioner.
  • There is a general lack of coordination of care once the active treatment phase is complete. Survivors need to play the central role in coordinating these activities using their cancer survivor treatment plan. There may be local community resources that can help.
  • There are many social media groups – Facebook – that can provide support.
  • There is a shortage of family practitioners and oncologists.
  • There currently are more than 16 million cancer survivors in the US and the number is growing.
  • People are living longer than ever after their cancer treatments. Cancer has become a chronic disease.
  • Survivors need to seek out community resources and integrate them into their cancer survivor plans.

Thoughts About This Session

This was an excellent evening with about 80 cancer survivors attending. The panel was excellent.

My key takeaway from this hour and a half session was that there is a big shortage of cancer professionals and that they don’t have the time to provide the same level of care to survivors as they do to cancer patients going through treatment.

That means that we cancer survivors need to take the survivor treatment plans we receive at the end of treatment and follow it closely. We also need to make the necessary lifestyle changes.

It may seem overwhelming, but once we begin to look there are lots of resources we can tap and people who have walked the path ahead of us who are willing to help.

This was a great evening and a great beginning to what I know will be a great two days.

We would love to hear about your cancer journey and the support resources you have found in your community. Just post your thoughts in the comment box or on our Facebook page – Cancer Journeys Foundation.

Warm regards,

Robert