Although cancer is an unplanned journey, survivors usually develop a routine during
treatment that includes establishing a comfortable relationship with members of their
health care team. When that treatment and its routine ends, survivors often liken that
transition to falling off a cliff — they're not sure what comes next and they feel lost
about moving forward on their own. It is often a time of mixed emotions. Ending treatment
can be cause for celebration, yet also a time of more challenges. Many questions surface —
Will my cancer come back? What about the side effects of treatment? How do I get back to
"normal"? Is there a new "normal"? What do I do now? How can I stay healthy? It is natural
to feel excited, and to feel worried. Carolina Well and the Comprehensive Cancer Support
Program will assist you with programs, services, and a survivorship care plan that will
help you move forward.
Survivorship Care Plans help create an easier transition to life after cancer for both you
and your community physician or other health care provider.
Survivorship care plans consist of:
- Treatment Summary
- Expected Course of Recovery and Possible Late Effects
- Surveillance Plan (a plan for when to come back and what will happen)
- Psychosocial Resources
- Lifestyle Recommendations
- Genetics Counseling for Patients and/or Families, if appropriate
Make sure you let your health care provider, doctor or nurse know of any physical or
emotional things that may be bothering you, including things that get in the way of your
daily life and well-being. In addition to your medical care, at this point — like
after diagnosis — is it important for you to take care of yourself, have follow up care,
and know there are tools to help you move forward and positively impact the quality of your
life. Ask for what you need.
The Lance Amstrong Foundation and Penn Medicine recently announced a four-year partnership
to further develop and disseminate the LIVESTRONG Care Plan Powered by
Penn Medicine's OncoLink. This free service gives cancer survivors, their families and
physicians the ability to create an individualized plan of care using up-to-date treatment
information based on Institute of Medicine recommendations, as well educating them about
their options to maintain optimal health once they are out of treatment.
The LIVESTRONG Care Plan assists adults diagnosed with cancer in understanding and
planning for such issues as: potential late effects of treatment; recommendations for
cancer screening (recurrence or new primary); psychosocial effects (including relationships
and sexuality/fertility); recommendations for a healthy lifestyle; genetic counseling (if
appropriate); effective prevention options; and a list of resources made available through
the LIVESTRONG cancer survivorship support services. To begin using this new tool,
go to www.LIVESTRONGCarePlan.org
The LAF's interest in providing a state-of-the-art care plan through its Network reaches
back to 2006 and the first meeting of the LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center of
Excellence Network which identified the need for a care plan through which cancer survivors
could document important milestones in their cancer experiences.
This program offers a kit of materials for both patients and physicians, including an
electronic Survivorship Care Plan Builder for the doctor and electronic Medical History
Builder for patients. These materials are currently designed for survivors of breast and
colon cancer but will be expanded to include other cancers in the future.