By Krystal Schepp, AOCNP, ThedaCare Cancer Care
Cancer is not quick business. At first it feels like it is because we are in a sprint to start treatment as soon as we have a diagnosis. The cadence usually changes as we enter new phases of your care plan. After active treatment is complete, your life will be reshaped — or take on an entirely new purpose. You will have a new story to tell.
I am a nurse practitioner at ThedaCare Cancer Care, and I specialize in developing cancer survivorship plans after active treatment. Survivorship is the process of debriefing from your life-changing experience with cancer and organizing your medical records for future health care providers. We discuss potential long-term side effects of treatment and plan future checkups and screenings to address your concerns and reduce anxiety. I am acutely aware that this is not a quick process. In fact, most cancer survivors will see our cancer providers every six or 12 months for five years or more.
Survivorship plans connect the past with the future. In a similar way, cancer survivors have a wealth of wisdom and experience to share. Many of our volunteers, like Keith Hutmaker, are cancer survivors. (You are, too!) What have you learned, and how might you help others? If you are up to the task, join Keith as he accompanies others through their cancer experiences. Your wisdom is priceless. Just like you.
Dum spiro spero
Keith Hutmaker is a cancer survivor, having conquered colorectal cancer while continuing to monitor spots in his lungs. He was diagnosed in October 2021 at age 61. Keith worked for 22 years as a nursing assistant at Brewster Village, the Outagamie County long-term care community, before joining the staff at UW-Oshkosh in facilities management. He and his wife Nadine have five children and nine grandchildren (and he loves that eight are girls). Even before cancer, he taught his children the Latin phrase “Dum spiro spero,” which means “While I breathe, I hope.”
Keith acknowledges he is blessed with communities of support, from his family to Emanual Lutheran Church in New London to the faculty and staff at UW-Oshkosh. After receiving his diagnosis, Keith began to practice meditation every morning and evening. He also accessed Caring Hearts at ThedaCare for financial assistance. “I see light and hope in my experience, and I want my life to be an open book to help others.”
You Are a Cancer Survivor
Your Survivorship Plan is Part of Your Toolbox
Referencing your plan will help you:
- Recall the treatments you received
- Communicate your cancer experience to other health care providers
- Schedule necessary checkups to monitor your health
- Access help for lingering emotional or spiritual needs
- Be aware of any long-term effects of your treatments
- Learn about ideas for staying healthy
- Know when and whom to call about new symptoms or findings
ThedaCare is here to support you at every stage of your cancer journey.
Our 2022 Cancer Survivors Day Celebration is generously supported by the ThedaCare Family of Foundations. To learn more or to make a donation, please contact Erin Tyink, regional development director, at 920.454.1253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.