Today is National Cancer Survivors Day. Life after cancer is a growing reality for a number of Americans who are now described as cancer survivors, rather than victims. However, there is significant emotional, physical and financial stress associated with fighting cancer, and survivors may have trouble coping with the aftermath of a cancer battle.
Cancer Survivors Are On the Rise
People are now surviving long after they have been diagnosed with cancer. Advances in early detection, better and more targeted drugs, and improved technologies are making remission a reality for millions. In addition, statistics show that those diagnosed with cancer have reasons now, more than ever before, to be hopeful.
Seek Out Support
Though you are undoubtedly grateful to have survived your battle with cancer, there is no shame in struggling to adjust to your life after cancer. You may have physical limitations, financial hardships or emotional stress. It is important to take care of your needs and seek out support when it is too much to handle on your own:
- Ask your doctor for a referral to a therapist, counselor or support group. A therapist can not only help you emotionally, but can also help you find financial resources for cancer patients and survivors.
- Share your concerns with family and close friends, and let them know that you need their support. This may include helping you overcome a physical limitation in your daily life, or simply having someone to talk to.
- Utilize online resources such as cancersurvivors.org and http://csn.cancer.org, which offer online support groups and other valuable information for cancer survivors.
- Seek out local resources, such as community organizations, church groups or social services.
Live a Healthy Life!
If you beat your battle with cancer, ensure you live the healthiest life possible going forward. Get plenty of exercise on a daily basis; 30 minutes or more are encouraged. Eat whole grains, plenty of vegetables and fruits, lean sources of protein and drink lots of water. Stay away from excessive amounts of salt, fat, alcohol and sweets. Finally, follow up with your physician on a regular basis.
The Future Looks Bright
In November 2008, the highly acclaimed “Annual Report to the Nation” revealed that both incidence and death rates for all cancers has declined—the first decrease since the report was issued in 1998.