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Survivorship: Life During and After Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society's Cancer Treatment & Survivorship Facts & Figures 2022-2024, an estimated 18 million individuals with a history of cancer were alive on January 1, 2022, in the United States. The survivor population is expected to increase each year with numbers reaching to more than 22.1 million by 2030. Cancer survivorship focuses on the quality of life following a cancer diagnosis, which includes physical, mental, emotional, social, and financial aspects that continue through treatment and beyond. Survivorship also includes issues related to follow-up care, late effects of treatment, and possible cancer recurrence.

It is important to remember that a cancer diagnosis has a major impact on everyone involved, including caregivers, family, and friends. All play a crucial role in the journey of the cancer survivor. Once cancer treatments are finished, a new chapter begins that will bring an overwhelming amount of joy and happiness offset by worry, anxiety, and fear. Each person is unique and has their own way of managing the emotions that are associated with the effects of treatment. Patients will need time to adjust to the new normal and lifestyle changes. Support from friends and family members, as well as listening to the advice of medical providers is so significant for patients during this transition.

Life after cancer is much like managing a chronic disease. Developing a coordinated treatment plan that includes the cancer team, support group members, family, and friends is the best way to live healthy and have the best quality of life. A survivorship care plan serves as a valuable record of cancer and treatment history, along with a place to record details about check-ups and follow-up tests. A survivorship care plan helps to optimize medical care and provides tools for staying healthy after cancer treatment.

Talk to Someone Anxiety and StressStaying healthy after cancer treatment can be challenging. Chat with Linda a cancer survivor, who gives advice on making healthy choices about alcohol, tobacco, anxiety and distress, and physical activity and nutrition.

Tips to maintain a healthy lifestyle:

  • Refrain from tobacco use, quit smoking, and avoid second-hand smoke.
  • Increase intake of fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep physically active.
  • Protect skin from exposure to ultraviolet rays (ex. sun and tanning beds)
  • Get a flu shot yearly.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.

Staying healthy during and after cancer treatment is very important in reducing the recurrence of cancer. Survivors and caregivers can visit the CDC's section on survivors for general information and tips on staying healthy. It is necessary as a precaution to keep follow-up care current even during COVID-19. Some cancer treatments and routine follow-up visits can be safely delayed, whereas others cannot. Patients should contact their healthcare provider and follow guidance for scheduling the next appointment. Please visit the CDC for more information on staying healthy while staying home.

There is a wealth of information available online regarding what to expect when facing life after cancer. These links are particularly helpful.



Survivorship Care Plans

Advance Directives

Financial Support Resources

Survivor Stories

Please visit our Survivors Resources page for a complete list of additional resources, programs, and available services.

Page last updated: June 14, 2024