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A young woman battling Cancer sits on the sofa in her home as she basks in the sunlight between treatments. She is dressed casually and is wearing a headscarf for warmth.
June 27, 2024

Cancer Survivorship Care Plans Help Create a Path Forward

June marks National Cancer Survivors Month

When a person is diagnosed with cancer, they are faced with a situation and a time where they are absorbing new information about their treatment and care. After a person completes their treatment, it can also bring a time of change.

Surviving cancer comes with a range of emotions. People may experience relief, joy, anxiety, guilt and stress – to name just a few. The survivorship journey is unique for each person, no two people’s experiences are exactly the same. A survivor may feel positive or challenging emotions simultaneously or in quick succession.

June marks National Cancer Survivors Month. As part of the recognition, it’s important for survivors to understand the resources around their survivorship care plans.

To help people navigate the path forward after treatment, ThedaCare Cancer Care offers survivorship care plans and a survivorship clinic program. The services allow individuals to discuss their physical, mental and emotional well-being with providers who are familiar with the challenges that come with cancer and treatment, explained Crystal Guttman, a Nurse Practitioner with ThedaCare Cancer Care.  

“It allows the care team to provide resources, reassure people about what they’re experiencing, and discuss what they can expect in the future,” she said.

Understanding Survivorship

Survivorship starts at cancer diagnosis and lasts for a lifetime, Guttman noted. People receive a survivorship care plan at the end of treatment to summarize their cancer journey.

“A survivorship care plan ties everything together,” Guttman said. “It helps chart a journey past the treatment end date.”

Care teams communicate the plan to the survivor and their family members. It provides a detailed record of cancer treatment history to help the individual coordinate future care. Teams revisit the plan regularly and adjust it as necessary to address changing needs of the survivor. It also includes guidelines for monitoring for recurrence and outlines steps for helping people move forward.

A plan typically details:

  • Type, location, stage, and treatments for the person’s cancer
  • Side effects or symptoms to watch for
  • Contact information for the care team
  • Resources for making healthy lifestyle changes
  • Sources of support

“People may experience long-lasting side effects related to treatment or the cancer itself,” Guttman said. “We walk people through surveillance, imaging, health maintenance and more. The goal is to help survivors find their ‘new normal.’”

Common Concerns

“Depending on the type of cancer or the treatment received, people may experience long-lasting side effects that take a toll mentally or physically,” said Emily Pohl, a Nurse Practitioner with ThedaCare Cancer Care. “It is not uncommon to have anxiety and/or depression surrounding the cancer diagnosis or quality of life after treatment.”

Other common concerns include:

  • Physical side effects
  • Fatigue
  • “Chemo brain” — changes in memory, thinking, and focus
  • Stress
  • Loneliness
  • Sexual side effects
  • Financial concerns

“Depending on the treatment a person received, they may also experience effects on different organ systems,” Pohl said. “This can lead to side effects that become lifelong concerns. We can help people manage and navigate these issues.”

In addition, the ThedaCare Cancer Care team helps survivors adopt healthy eating, exercise and coping habits.

Continuing Care

ThedaCare Cancer Care is dedicated to caring for the whole person throughout their entire cancer journey.

“Cancer care does not end with treatment,” Guttman said. “We’re here to provide support and ongoing resources. We can help people continue to live their unique, best life — or redefine what that means to them.”

Learn more about ThedaCare Cancer Care services and support.