You did it. Your treatment is over. You’re in remission. Life can “get back to normal” now, right? Well… not exactly.
As a breast cancer survivor who also happens to be a breast surgeon, I have the unique perspective of guiding my patients through a journey that I’m also traveling. With that comes compassion, empathy and a great deal of responsibility.
What is survivorship?
It’s important to note that you are a cancer survivor from the day you got your diagnosis. And life after cancer can be anything but ordinary.
During the treatment period, you’ll most likely have an abundance of support and helpful information shared with you. After treatment, you might feel that support slip away, while you feel left with many unanswered questions.
If this is where you are, stop with me right now. Take a deep breath and know that it takes time to recover and readjust to life after treatment.
You might want to jump right back into “life before cancer, ” but that might not be possible. Taking the time to figure out what is your new normal will be essential to adjusting.
You are not alone
According to the American Cancer Society, there are 15 million cancer survivors in the United States, and we can expect that count to increase to 20 million by 2026. At first glance, that number might be intimidating, but the cause is encouraging. The number of growing survivors is due partly to improved treatments that help people with cancer live longer. Improvements like early detection, which allows us to find cancer earlier. Finding cancer earlier means it’s easier to treat.
When we share just how the number of cancer survivors is growing, we can help draw attention to the specific needs of those survivors, which includes medical, psychological, and social needs.
Let’s do this together
This is where I’m asking you to join me on this journey. In the coming months, we will address topics such as pain, self-image, chemo brain, fatigue, neuropathy, menopausal symptoms, lymphedema, obesity and more, as we walk down this path together.
We aren’t shying away from the tough subjects, either. We will also discuss intimacy after cancer, finding meaning or purpose in life after cancer, how to deal with a recurrence, as well as keeping a cancer treatment summary, resources and questions to ask physicians in your follow-up visits.
Are you ready? I know I am.
Dr. Halaharvi is a board-certified general surgeon with over six years of experience. She completed the Breast Surgery Fellowship at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center and provides a surgical practice focused on breast care and breast surgery.
Dr. Halaharvi’s interests include teaching, involvement in clinical breast disease research and community outreach activities. She can speak 4 languages which include: English, Hindi, Urdu & Telugu.