Defining Cancer Survivorship
To be a survivor of cancer, you may be undergoing treatment, past treatment, or both. For more distinction, there are three different phases of cancer survivorship (ASCO, 2019):
1. Acute survivorship: begins at cancer diagnosis, goes to the end of first treatment.
2. Extended survivorship: begins at the end of first treatment, goes through months after; includes the effects of cancer.
3. Permanent survivorship: years passed the end of treatment.
Though these phases of survivorship are somewhat black and white, there is no one standard that excludes a person with cancer to be deemed a survivor, nor from engaging in cancer survivorship. It is important to note, however, that those who have experienced or who are currently experiencing cancer may not like to be called a ‘survivor.’ Always make sure to check in with your family or friend going through cancer whether or not they are okay with being called a survivor.
Cancer Survivorship & Lifestyle
Living with cancer at any stage can be both physically and mentally exhausting. After undergoing treatment, survivors of cancer must learn to adjust to a new way of living. Therefore, it is common for survivors to experience extreme emotions – both positive and negative. These emotions may range from hope and optimism, to loneliness and fear of cancer recurrence (CISN, n.d.). To help regulate these emotions, it is best for survivors to take steps towards improving their own wellness. These steps may include:
-Maintaining a healthy diet full of fiber, leafy greens, and organic foods
-Keeping a daily journal to record thoughts and feelings
-Creating a survivorship care plan with a cancer care team
What is cancer survivorship?
It is clear that there are multiple lifestyle choices a survivor can take in taking steps towards improving their wellness. Cancer survivorship is another great tool to utilize. Cancer survivorship is a supportive healing tool for those facing cancer treatment, or who are beyond it. It can help survivors learn how to cope with the effects of cancer and how to re-adjust to life after treatment. At the Swedish Cancer Institute, we offer our own survivorship resources, included in the resources section at the end of this article. Led by our facilitator, Patti Kwok, sessions cover how to cope with fear of recurrence, spiritual health, and additional topics that help patients navigate the uncertainty of recovery.
Understanding the Importance of Cancer Survivorship with Patti Kwok: Healing vs. Curing
To dive deeper into the importance of cancer survivorship, Swedish Cancer Institute’s survivorship specialist, Patti Kwok has a few words to say.
Patti laments upon the fact that most are in search of a cure, rather than to heal, during their cancer care process. So, what’s the difference? Though many use the two terms interchangeably, they are notably different, especially in regard to cancer survivorship. To cure someone is to completely rid them of all the sources to their troubles. In other words, it is a primarily physical and short-term event. In contrast, to heal someone is to be restored to spiritual wholeness. It focuses more on the long-term horizon and pertains to one’s emotional wellbeing (Koshal, 2011).
As mentioned prior, survivors of cancer undergo great emotional change and must essentially reinvent a new normal. Therefore, cancer survivorship offers a route of empowerment for survivors, rather than enablement, Kwok distinguishes.
More information about survivorship and resources offered at Swedish visit: www.swedish.org/survivorship
For scheduling at Ballard, First Hill and Issaquah, call (206) 320-8266
For Edmonds, call (425) 673-8300
American Society of Clinical Oncology (2019). What is Survivorship? Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.net/survivorship/what-survivorship
Cancer Information & Support Network (n.d.). Survivorship. Retrieved from: https://cisncancer.org/survivorship/understanding_emotions.html
Difference Between (2011). Difference Between Healing and Curing. Retrieved from: https://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-healing-and-vs-curing/#:~:text=%20What%20is%20the%20difference%20between%20Healing%20and,driving%20away%20symptoms%20of%20a%20disease.%20More%20