Colorectal Cancer: Survivorship

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Care of cancer patients does not stop immediately after the completion of chemotherapy. The team at Cone Health aims to make this oftentimes frightening transition as stress-free as possible by providing each patient with a survivorship plan – individualized to their specific needs – that helps them understand what to expect after treatment ends, and how to establish a routine for their daily life.

Many individuals experience physical and emotional symptoms after they have completed treatment, such as fatigue, weight changes, sexual dysfunction and especially anxiety. It is important for cancer patients to learn how to cope with the fear that their cancer might return, as well as how to develop and maintain healthy relationships with their friends and family.

Cone Health also works with patients to help them understand what symptoms to look out for, as patients are no longer seeing their doctors as often as they were used to during chemotherapy. Things to look for include abdominal pain, dark urine, blood in the stool or persistent coughing, as these could be signs of recurrence or indicators of secondary issues.

After treatment, many cancer patients find themselves asking “When will I feel normal again?”  And many of these individuals emerge out of cancer treatment with different viewpoints and priorities in life.  This is the exact reason Cone Health Cancer Center started the Finding Your New Normal (FYNN) program, which is an eight-week cancer survivorship program that focuses on alternative ways to improve self-care and well-being, and helping cancer survivors adjust to their new normal life.

The program classes concentrate on:

  • Wellness overview and planning
  • Exercise and fitness
  • Healthy eating and nutrition
  • Creative expression
  • Intimacy and relationships
  • Emotional and spiritual well-being

Support and care after cancer treatment can help everyone, men and women, reclaim their lives and well-being.  For this reason, Cone Health takes a multi-disciplinary approach for each patient’s treatment plan, utilizing an entire team of support staff at the Cancer Center, including patient navigators, registered dieticians, clinical social workers, chaplains, psychologists and a medical team of oncology-related specialists.

Spokesperson Background:

Susan Coward is the GI oncology nurse navigator at Cone Health Cancer Center and has 25 years of experience in oncology with Cone Health. Susan received her Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1983.

Grier Hock is a licensed clinical social worker at Cone Health Cancer Center and has have 15 years of experience as a medical social worker with Cone Health. Grier received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from North Carolina State University and her master’s in social work from the University of South Carolina.