For more than 14 million Americans, a cancer diagnosis is something they live with everyday. While some may just be embarking on their cancer journey, many others have completed their trek and are living beyond their cancer diagnosis. For those patients, they experienced the joy and relief that came with finally finishing their treatments. However, there often can be uncertainty when patients consider their lives after cancer. Sometimes, many are left wondering, “What happens next?”
Survivorship is an important part of any patient’s cancer journey, and oncology nurses are in a unique position to provide their patients with the resources and care needed to navigate these uncertain waters. Nurses can ensure that transitioning away from regular care and into survivorship is an easy, reassuring process for their patients. They can provide helpful resources that focus on living healthy after cancer.
The challenges that many survivors encounter during and after their cancer treatments can be numerous. A few of the issues they face include:
- Difficulty accessing specialist care
- Financial toxicity
- Inability to find work
- Psychosocial distress
- Late effects from treatment
In 2006, the National Academy of Medicine—formerly the Institute of Medicine—released a report that recommended the implementation of survivorship care plans in cancer practices throughout the United States. The implementation of these care plans is essential to providing individualized guidelines that monitor the health of patients living beyond their cancer diagnosis.
The National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society, in a new effort to help cancer survivors and oncology professionals, have developed Springboard Beyond Cancer. It’s an all-new resource designed to help healthcare professionals empower their patients to play a key role in their health after a cancer diagnosis.
The Springboard Beyond Cancer is an online tool that patients can access to find guidance on smoking cessation, self-management, side effect information, psychosocial issues, and more. Consider this site as another useful tool for your toolbox when helping your patient’s face survivorship head on.
Addressing survivorship concerns and transitioning patients out of care is an important, integral process along the cancer continuum. To ensure positive outcomes for patients, survivorship care plans must be implemented and supported as patients return to their daily lives.