Why you need a survivorship plan

Getting back to “normal” life after breast cancer isn’t easy, which is why having a personalised survivorship plan is vital for everyone who has completed treatment for any type of cancer.

Taking the time to figure out what works for you is crucial – it’ll save you a lot of unnecessary suffering and make that transition away from patient that much smoother.

Unsure where to start? We hear you – this stuff can be tough – which is why we’re running a free webinar on mental resilience and survivorship called "Living Life After Breast Cancer" on Tuesday 20th February. You can register here.

When your treatment is complete, and there are no more appointments to go to, it’s normal to feel a bit lost. What you’ll feel will be unique to you – some days you might be fine, whereas on others you may need extra support although it’s not always easy to self-monitor.

Ideally you’d be screened, in an ongoing manner, by your doctor, to see how you’re faring. Unfortunately though the health system is simply too burdened to be able to provide this service so it falls on you to know when you need to reach out to independent survivorship groups, apps like mybc and other support therapies.

A recent study has suggested an alternative, more preventative way of tackling survivorship. Rather than waiting for your quality of life to be impacted, doctors could do a one-off screening, as part the end of your treatment, to identify whether you’re at high risk of chronic stress post-treatment. You could then work with your health provider to put a survivorship plan into action early, to minimise feeling low from the word go.

The systematic meta-analysis of 42 studies looked at female breast cancer patients from North America, Asia and Europe, who had completed primary treatment (usually surgery) and noted common characteristics among those who suffered most post-cancer. The key areas were as follows:

  • Menopausal/vasomotor symptoms
  • Pain, fatigue and trouble sleeping
  • Younger age
  • Non-Caucasian ethnicity
  • Being unmarried
  • Lower education and lower income
  • Lower level of physical activity
  • Lower social support
  • Cigarette smoking
  • History of mental health problems
  • Perceived issues with carrying out daily life

Currently this one-off screening isn’t available but if you fall into any of the above categories (or even if you don’t), it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider or support group about putting a survivorship plan in place.