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Cancer Survivorship: Thriving During and After Treatment

Publication: Cleburne Times-Review

Being declared cancer-free is something to celebrate. But for many patients, that milestone comes with a mix of emotions – joy, anger, relief, sadness, confusion, and even guilt. Transitioning from patient to survivor is not a destination. Rather, it is the beginning of a new normal.

Cancer treatment is changing, and redefining lifestyles for many of the survivors in the U.S. Advancements in medicine and technology are making it easier for patients to declare themselves cancer thrivers – not mere survivors.

As an oncologist, my role is not just treating tumors, but also helping meet patients’ growing expectations for keeping their lives as normal as possible even in the face of cancer. That can mean exploring treatment options so that patients experience less disruption (and discomfort), and are more able to engage in fulfilling activities during and after treatment.

Advancements such as immunotherapy, targeted therapies, and personalized medicine constitute quantum leaps forward in reducing short- and long-term side effects, improving quality of life for cancer patients and survivors. Thriving also is enabled by our community-based care approach, in which patients receive treatment closer to family, friends, and support networks. This is our way of maintaining a more thriving-friendly environment for patients.

In follow-up appointments, we often hear stories about patients who are accomplishing amazing things which inspire us further to give our fullest effort.

Our commitment extends beyond the treatment plan – into patients’ lives outside of the clinic and after treatment. I believe most patients welcome the opportunity to make that connection, which is founded in a holistic and patient-centered point of view.

Oncology teams can help patients thrive during treatment by carefully monitoring their health, and communicating early and often about options, expectations, and outcomes. After treatment, patients take more responsibility for their daily and long-term health.  In addition, cancer thrivers also need help with:

  • Access to healthcare.
  • Careful monitoring of long and late effects of treatment.
  • Screening for recurrence and secondary malignancies.
  • Help managing quality of life issues.

From the moment of a cancer diagnosis, patients understandably focus all energy on fighting the disease. But with more people surviving cancer than ever, we urge patients to take charge of their future, and to embrace and define thriving on their own terms. Whether that’s running a marathon, taking up watercolor painting, or spending more time with kids or grandkids, it’s all about living the best, fullest life possible.

Sandhya Bejjanki, M.D., is a medical oncologist at Texas Oncology—Cleburne, 191 Walls Drive in Cleburne, Texas.

Being declared cancer-free is something to celebrate. But for many patients, that milestone comes with a mix of emotions – joy, anger, relief, sadness, confusion, and even guilt. Transitioning from patient to survivor is not a destination. Rather, it is the beginning of a new normal.

Cancer treatment is changing, and redefining lifestyles for many of the survivors in the U.S. Advancements in medicine and technology are making it easier for patients to declare themselves cancer thrivers – not mere survivors.

As an oncologist, my role is not just treating tumors, but also helping meet patients’ growing expectations for keeping their lives as normal as possible even in the face of cancer. That can mean exploring treatment options so that patients experience less disruption (and discomfort), and are more able to engage in fulfilling activities during and after treatment.

Advancements such as immunotherapy, targeted therapies, and personalized medicine constitute quantum leaps forward in reducing short- and long-term side effects, improving quality of life for cancer patients and survivors. Thriving also is enabled by our community-based care approach, in which patients receive treatment closer to family, friends, and support networks. This is our way of maintaining a more thriving-friendly environment for patients.

In follow-up appointments, we often hear stories about patients who are accomplishing amazing things which inspire us further to give our fullest effort.

Our commitment extends beyond the treatment plan – into patients’ lives outside of the clinic and after treatment. I believe most patients welcome the opportunity to make that connection, which is founded in a holistic and patient-centered point of view.

Oncology teams can help patients thrive during treatment by carefully monitoring their health, and communicating early and often about options, expectations, and outcomes. After treatment, patients take more responsibility for their daily and long-term health.  In addition, cancer thrivers also need help with:

  • Access to healthcare.
  • Careful monitoring of long and late effects of treatment.
  • Screening for recurrence and secondary malignancies.
  • Help managing quality of life issues.

From the moment of a cancer diagnosis, patients understandably focus all energy on fighting the disease. But with more people surviving cancer than ever, we urge patients to take charge of their future, and to embrace and define thriving on their own terms. Whether that’s running a marathon, taking up watercolor painting, or spending more time with kids or grandkids, it’s all about living the best, fullest life possible.

Sandhya Bejjanki, M.D., is a medical oncologist at Texas Oncology—Cleburne, 191 Walls Drive in Cleburne, Texas.

This article originally appeared in Cleburne Times-Review.

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