June is Cancer Survivorship Month

June 01, 2023
June is Cancer Survivorship Month

June is National Cancer Survivorship Month

And Therapy Achievements wants to celebrate our cancer patients; those who are in the fight and those who have won the fight.  We are thankful for all you teach us and appreciate the chance to share what we learn from you with others.   

What is Cancer Survivorship?

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Cancer survivorship has at least 2 common meanings:

  • Having no signs of cancer after finishing treatment.
  • Living with, through, and beyond cancer.

This means that cancer survivorship starts at diagnosis and extends through the course of treatment and beyond.  And outpatient therapy - physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy - can help you nagivgate each phase.

What are the Phases of Survivorship?

Acute Cancer Survivorship:  

The focus of the Acute phase is treating the cancer.  It starts at diagnosis and goes through to the end of initial treatment.

How Therapy Helps:  Outpatient therapy during this phase helps to minimize any negative effects from treatment and maximize comfort and function.  Therapy is provided to:

  • manage pain
  • minimize or prevent problems with swelling, balance, swallowing and breathing
  • maintain strength, flexibility and mobility so you can be as independent as possible

Extended Cancer Survivorship:

The focus of the Extended phase is on the effects of cancer and treatment.  It starts at the end of initial treatment and goes through the months after. 

How Therapy Helps:  Oupatient therapy during this phase helps restore balance, movement, strength and endurance.  Therapy is provided to:

Permanent Cancer Survivorship:

The focus of this phase is addressing long-term effects of cancer and treatment.  It spans the years after cancer treatment ends when there is less of a chance that the cancer may come back. 

How Therapy Helps:  Outpatient therapy helps you move from basic to higher levels of function.  Therapy is provided to:

  • obtain advanced skills in balance, coordination and stamia
  • resume sports, travel and recreational activities

How To Stay Healthy?

So how do you stay health after a fight with cancer? The Alabama Comprehensive Cancer Control Program to help spread the news about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce the risk of cancer.  Tips for staying healthy include:

  • Stay away from tobacco. If you smoke, try to quit. Avoid second-hand smoke.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol consumption.
  • Protect skin from UV exposure from the sun and tanning beds.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be as physically active as possible.
  • Stay in touch with your healthcare and Cancer Rehab teams.
  • Follow recommendations regarding future cancer screenings.
  • Manage stress by finding ways to relax, taking time for yourself, and working toward having a positive attitude.

What's the Next Step?

It is important for cancer survivors to maintain a strong support system of family members, friends, and trusted professionals as they go through the cancer treatment and recovery process.  A survivorship care plan helps maximize health and personal well-being to have the best quality of life.  It is a way to:

  • Share information between the patient, oncologist, and primary care physician (PCP).  It helps your team to coordinate aftercare and provide structure to the follow-up period.
  • It helps decrease the chance of getting lost in transition through the phases of their life or stages of their disease.
  • It provides comprehensive information to the patient and provider about the diagnosis, treatment, anticipated long-term/late-term side effects, and follow up plan.

Ask you therapist to help you identify how outpatient therapy should be included in your cancer survivorship plan.  For more information about developing a survivorship care plan and for additional resources to help live your healthiest life after cancer, please visit https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/cancer/life-after-cancer.html.