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Monday, September 16, 2019

Today’s Wall Street Journal includes an in-depth story from Laura Landro examining the unique challenges facing cancer survivors.

Ms. Saltsman looks out at a hummingbird feeder in her backyard. 'Daily life now is making sure I pay attention to little things,' she says. The birds 'are so beautiful, and I just want to slow down and pay attention to their beauty.'
Lauren Justice for The Wall Street Journal

The article’s subheadline sums it up in one clear sentence: “As more patients are treated successfully, doctors and researchers are focusing more on helping people navigate the difficult, often lonely years after treatment.”

In fact, the number of cancer survivors is projected to rise from 17 million today to about 22 million by 2030.

Landro references the Cancer Support Community’s Cancer Transitions program, an initiative that continues to help patients navigate the unique experience of survivorship.

We are especially grateful that Teresa Saltsman, a survivor from Illinois who has benefited from this program at the Gilda’s Club Quad Cities, who shared her story with the reporter.

Below is an excerpt from article:

The emotional and psychological toll of treatment often go untreated as survivors seek care. Now more organizations are working locally to support survivors as they try to manage those burdens.

One program, Elevate Survivorship, from the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, is using survivors as a main part of its effort: The group is recruiting and training them as ambassadors to improve care in their community with projects at hospitals, oncology practices and local organizations. Meanwhile, the Cancer Support Community—formed by the merger in 2009 of the nonprofit Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club, founded in honor of the late comedian Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer—offers patients who have completed treatment within 24 months a free program called Cancer Transitions.

The program—available through health-care providers including hospitals, and at local Gilda’s Clubs and Cancer Support Community affiliates—includes six weekly 2½-hour group sessions covering a range of issues, from practical aspects of medical management to emotional well-being and coping concerns, as well as exercise programs and training in stress management.

Teresa Saltsman, diagnosed in 2012 with breast cancer in three sites, had a bilateral mastectomy, lymph node removal surgery, chemotherapy and radiation over nearly a year. In addition to continuing pain from the surgery, she had a flare-up of an old rotator-cuff injury, muscle spasms in her upper torso, and tightening of tissues under her arms and in her chest.

The side effects of the anticancer therapies prescribed after treatment were so intense that she eventually discontinued their use. Although happy to be alive, Ms. Saltsman asks: “How do we manage this posttreatment crap that can go on for years?”

She turned for help to the Cancer Transitions program at the Gilda’s Club Quad Cities near her home in Rock Island, Ill., which has helped her connect to other survivors dealing with the same issues, and “bring calm and peace to a chaotic situation.” She attends regular yoga sessions there tailored to patients with physical limitations from pain and swelling after breast-cancer surgery, which has helped reduce muscle spasms and ease tightness, and takes classes in meditation, painting and music.

If you are a subscriber to the Wall Street Journal, please see the full story here: https://www.wsj.com/articles/youve-survived-cancer-what-comes-next-11568599621

Emotional Support and Navigation Resources We Offer

If you or someone you know is a cancer survivor, please find our host of free resources.

Find a Gilda’s Club or Cancer Support Community location near you.

As always, licensed professionals are available on our Cancer Support Helpline from 9 am to 9 pm ET at 888-793-9355.

Category: CSC News

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