Addressing the needs of cancer survivors

Published: Tuesday, June 4, 2024
Angie Caton, MSN, RN, OCN Assistant Nurse Manager
NGMC Cancer Services

June is Cancer Survivor Month, a time dedicated to recognizing the strength, resilience and courage of those who have battled cancer. Surviving cancer is a monumental achievement, but the journey doesn’t end with remission. Survivors often face a range of challenges that require ongoing support and care. Let’s shed light on some critical areas where survivors may need assistance and explore strategies to help them thrive.

Overcoming issues with sleep

Sleep disturbances are common among cancer survivors due to stress, anxiety or side effects from treatment. Establishing a regular sleep routine can be beneficial. This includes going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, creating a restful environment as well as avoiding caffeine or electronic devices before bed. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises and yoga can also promote better sleep.

Managing pain

Chronic pain can be a lingering issue for many cancer survivors. Pain management should be personalized and may involve a combination of medication, physical therapy as well as massage or aromatherapy. It’s essential to work closely with healthcare providers to develop an effective pain management plan that minimizes discomfort and enhances quality of life.

Resolving financial issues

The financial burden of cancer treatment can be overwhelming. Survivors often face medical bills, reduced income and other financial stresses. Seeking assistance from a financial counselor who specializes in healthcare can help. Many organizations offer financial aid, and there are various programs designed to support cancer patients and survivors with costs related to treatment, medication, and daily living expenses.

Handling anxiety

Anxiety is a common issue for cancer survivors, stemming from fear of recurrence, health concerns and the psychological impact of their experience. Support groups and mindfulness practices can be very effective in managing anxiety. Regular physical activity, a healthy diet, and engaging in hobbies can also provide mental health benefits and reduce anxiety levels.

Managing stress

Stress management is crucial for overall well-being. Techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle can help reduce stress. It’s also important to recognize the value of social support. Connecting with friends, family, or joining a survivor support group can provide emotional comfort and reduce feelings of isolation.

Managing household activities

The physical and emotional toll of cancer can make managing household activities challenging. It’s important to ask for help when needed and accept it. Delegating tasks, utilizing community resources, and creating a manageable daily schedule can alleviate the burden. Energy conservation techniques, such as taking breaks and prioritizing tasks, can also help in managing day-to-day activities effectively.

Getting religious/spiritual support

For many survivors, spiritual or religious beliefs play a significant role in their recovery and coping process. Engaging with a faith community, seeking guidance from spiritual leaders, or participating in spiritual practices can provide solace and strength. Many hospitals and cancer centers offer chaplain services or can connect survivors with appropriate spiritual resources.

Dealing with end-of-life thoughts

Contemplating mortality is an often challenging aspect of the cancer journey. It’s important to have open and honest conversations about end-of-life wishes with loved ones and healthcare providers. Palliative care and counseling services can offer support, focusing on quality of life and providing emotional and psychological support during this time.

If you’re struggling, it’s okay to share your feelings. It’s important to call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline if end-of-life thoughts become overwhelming. The 988 Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States.

Remember, reaching out for help is a sign of strength, and there are resources available to support you through every step of this journey.

Getting the support you need

A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, not only for the patient, but also family members and caregivers. Northeast Georgia Medical Center has several cancer support services to offer – such as patient navigators, clinical trials, support groups and more.

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By addressing these common needs, we can help survivors navigate their post-cancer lives with greater ease and dignity. Remember, the road to recovery is unique for each survivor, and ongoing support and compassion from their community play a vital role in their continued healing and well-being.

When you or a loved one are navigating cancer, you can turn to Northeast Georgia Medical Center for the expertise you need. Call 770-525-5349 or visit Cancer Services for more information.