June not only marks the beginning of summer; it’s also National Cancer Survivor Month. This is a perfect time to honor and cherish those who have overcome cancer and acknowledge the challenges they may continue to face. At Beacon Clinic, we treat patients with all types of cancers, helping them develop treatment plans, offering supportive services, and even providing treatment at our Coeur d’Alene facility. We see patients at all stages of their cancer journeys, including following treatment.

For cancer patients, the ultimate goal of treatment is survival because nearly all unchecked cancers lead to death. But what does it mean to be a cancer survivor, and what does life after cancer look like? Let’s explore the journey of survivorship.

Defining Survivorship: Navigating the Gray Areas

The term “cancer survivor” carries different meanings depending on whom you ask. Still, the American Cancer Society considers anyone living with cancer, regardless of their stage of treatment, a survivor. This inclusive definition recognizes the ongoing battle that many patients face, even during active treatment.

However, from a clinical perspective, most oncologists define survivorship as being in remission after completing treatment. Remission signifies a period with little to no signs of cancer, although it doesn’t guarantee a cure. This transition to survivorship marks the beginning of a surveillance phase, with regular check-ups to monitor for any signs of recurrence.

Life After Cancer: Confronting Challenges

Surviving cancer is a monumental achievement, but it’s not without its challenges. Physical, mental, and financial hurdles may linger after treatment ends, often as a result of the treatment. This is especially true when treatment involves surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, which alone can cause lasting effects. Coping with these effects and undergoing rehabilitation is where cancer survivorship programs play a crucial role. Different programs offer a range of support services designed to address the unique needs of survivors, providing a lifeline during the transition to post-treatment life.

From addressing psychological concerns to managing long-term side effects, survivorship programs empower individuals to navigate their journey with confidence. Whether it’s connecting with support groups or accessing resources for rehabilitation, survivors don’t have to face these challenges alone.

Navigating Survivorship: Resources and Support

Cancer survivorship statistics have been altered greatly in recent years due to advancements in both the early detection and treatment of many different types of cancer. Over the past decades, the number of cancer survivors in the United States has significantly increased, thanks to improved screening methods and innovative therapies.

According to recent statistics, approximately 18 million Americans are living with a history of cancer. While this is a testament to medical progress, survivorship can involve many complexities. Each survivor’s journey is unique, influenced by factors such as cancer type, treatment regimen, and the individual’s particular characteristics – for example, their age, level of fitness, and resilience.

Navigating life after cancer requires a multidisciplinary approach involving both medical professionals and support networks. Survivorship care plans, tailored to each individual, outline recommended follow-up care and provide a roadmap for long-term health management.

Beyond medical care, survivors can find solace in community resources, support groups, and advocacy initiatives. Whether it’s seeking counseling for emotional support or finding ways to give back to those who treat cancer or are suffering from cancer, survivors have a wealth of resources at their disposal.

Beacon Clinic salutes all our patients who have come to us for comprehensive cancer care. Because we were founded as an oncology practice, we fully appreciate all the trials cancer survivors have weathered, and stand in awe at their grit, perseverance, and fortitude. 

National Cancer Survivor Month is a time to celebrate resilience and hope and a reminder of the ongoing journey of survivorship. If you have cancer or if someone close to you has received a cancer diagnosis, please reach out to Beacon Clinic today to find out how we can support you.