Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
What should I do to take care of myself now that I am done with cancer treatments and "cancer-free?"
Rodney N. Warner, Staff Attorney at The Legal Clinic for the Disabled, Staff Attorney at The Legal Clinic for the Disabled, responds:
Enjoy yourself. Veggies, sun screen and medical tests are all well and good, but the best revenge against cancer is living well. Carpe diem, seize the day. That vacation you'd like, if you can afford, take it. That job or career you'd like to try, try it. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Give cancer the finger and enjoy yourself.
Gloria DiLullo, MSN, CRNP, OncoLink Medical Oncology Educational Content Specialist, responds:
Now is a good time to reflect on what you have gone through and how you will carry on. It is time to think about how to get yourself back to a more “normal” life and how you can maintain your good health. First, Eating right is very important– limit processed and red meat, and get in 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day. Exercise is also very important. It can boost your stamina, alleviate fatigue, and keep you on the road to better health.
In addition to the follow-up required for your own cancer, it's also important to get the recommended cancer screenings so you can find any new cancers early, when they're easiest to treat. For instance, make sure to get mammograms annually, PSA testing and colonoscopies at the intervals determined by your healthcare provider.
Another good idea is to create a survivorship care plan through Oncolink at www.livestrongcareplan.org. This is a free and easy-to-create care plan that details the treatments you had and what you are at risk for in terms of the long-term effects of those treatments and your particular cancer diagnosis. In addition, the care plan provides follow-up recommendations for your healthcare providers.
One other very important thing to remember is Sun Safety. Make sure to protect yourself against the sun's harmful rays by limiting exposure at peak times of the day, applying and reapply sunblock, and dressing to shield the sun's rays, such as wearing a hat and proper clothing. Last month's webchat on Survivorship.
This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series, Cancer Survivorship Webchat. View the entire transcript on Survivorship.