|What is Survivorship? The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) considers someone a cancer “survivor” from the day of diagnosis throughout the rest of life. At Minnesota Oncology, we agree with this definition. If you are at the start of your journey or have had a change in treatment, you may or may not feel like a cancer survivor. That’s okay. We still consider you a cancer survivor. We define survivorship, from the time of diagnosis and continuing through treatment and afterwards until the end of life. Survivorship care also includes the family members, friends and caregivers who are members of your inner circle and who contribute to your emotional and physical well-being.
Read about how Minnesota Oncology’s Survivorship Program changed one patient’s life in the Fall/Winter issue of Cancer Care Today.
Why is Survivorship Care important?
A cancer diagnosis causes physical, emotional and spiritual distress. In addition to finding the cancer treatment that is best for you, your emotional needs are of equal importance. You and your family may experience a broad range of emotions ranging from fear, anger, depression, fatigue and a sense of extreme loss. This is a normal response to hearing about your diagnosis of cancer. At times these emotions can impact your ability to cope with the demands of daily living. When that happens, it is important to have resourcs available to help you regain your balance. From diagnosis to end of life, survivorship care will focus on improving your qualityof life (QOL). This includes your physical, social, emotional and functional well-being, and the emotional health of your immediate family.
What will the Survivorship Program do for me?
Minnesota Oncology’s Survivorship Program includes evaluating distress, nutrition therapy, counseling, physical rehabilitation, spiritual care and advanced care planning. The goal of our Survivorship Program is to identify and address the various concerns you have (1) at the time of diagnosis, (2) when treatment is completed, (3) when you are a long-term survivor (4) and/or if you are living with cancer. It is important to identify what the care needs are for all patients no matter what their diagnosis and stage of disease.
Cancer touches every aspect of a person’s life and impacts each of their relationships in some way. It is helpful to assess both the sources and remedy for the various points of discomfort that may be getting in your way of living well.
The survivorship program was designed to care for patients in a supportive manner. Your one-on-one appointments with the survivorship professionals will focus on your needs throughout your journey with a goal of enhancing your quality of life.
When will my Survivorship Program begin?
Cancer survivorship care will begin shortly after you and your oncologist determine your treatment plan. This is often a stressful time of uncertainty. By introducing survivorship care early, we can improve your ability to cope with therapy while maintaining a satisfying level of everyday life.
You may have one-on-one visits with a survivorship professional at diagnosis, upon treatment completion, 3-12 months following treatment completion, if cancer returns, or any time there is a change in your treatment plan. Survivorship visits can be requested at other times if there is an expressed need. The focus of these visits is your quality of life and addressing any obstacle that inhibits your ability to live a full and satisfying life.
Where shall I go for my Survivorship visits?
Minnesota Oncology is in the process of expanding the Survivorship Program to all of our 9 metro locations. Currently, survivorship care is offered at several of our clinics. If it is not available at your oncologists’s clinic, you can be seen at a different site for your survivorship visit. Our goal is to have the Survivorship Program available at most of our clinics by the end of 2013.