26 February 2015
In 2008 I had my first meeting with the breast cancer survivorship specialist. I thought it was a big deal to get switched from the cancer clinic to the Survivorship Clinic and immediately started planning how I would celebrate yet one more milestone in my cancer journey!You can never celebrate too much – fun is always important to me.
Anyway, the meeting with my survivorship specialist was informative and a bit of a downer. We discussed the possible long term side effects of my chemo, radiation and hormonal therapy treatments. Now that I had survived cancer, I had to deal with life long side effects or the possibility of problems with my heart, bones, and immune system, not to mention the increased risk of developing a second cancer. Hmmm, how to celebrate this??
Well, I began to think of how person centered tools would enhance the survivorship planning. I wanted to talk about my hopes and dreams for the future which included helping women experiencing breast cancer. I had the passion to support women and let them know they were not alone in their experiences. This expanded to realizing there are consistent experiences with most people on a journey with cancer. This is what led to the different stages of the journey found on the website:
Discovery – you think you might have cancer
Diagnosis – you hear the words “you have cancer”
Treatment – having some sort of treatment gives hope for cure or prolonging quality of life and treatment does disrupt life.
New Normal – treatment is over…NOW WHAT – this is where survivorship planning comes in to play. Cancer specialists talk about medical issues in survivorship plans. We have developed an extra component to survivorship plans – the YOU part. I want to be happy and healthy and feel empowered as I continue to survive cancer. I still need support, but it is different now – I need help to keep my stress level LOW and to take time for myself. This is what I want in a survivorship plan. We hope it is helpful to others at this stage of their journey with cancer.
Click here to download the survivorship plan developed by cancer survivors based on 5 Ways to Wellbeing and person centered support.
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