Moving forward after cancer

Sarah Adams is a breast cancer survivor. “I went through mastectomy, chemotherapy and 33 rounds of radiation. During radiation I was at the Cancer Center every weekday,” Adams said.

“I joked that the post office should forward my mail to Carle.”

While Adams was happy when her treatments ended, she also felt strange. “I had doctors checking up on my progress almost every day. Suddenly I was out on my own without doctors regularly seeing me. It was kind of disconcerting.”
Social worker Kimberly Harden (pictured, left, with Adams) says Adams’ experience is common. “When people have surgery or chemotherapy or radiation, it is a very intense experience. Some have trouble getting back into their normal routine when treatment ends. That’s where it’s helpful to connect with others,” Harden explained.

Harden says cancer survivors have some common difficulties after their treatment ends:

  • Worrying that cancer will come back
  • Not seeing physicians as frequently
  • Adjusting to lifestyle changes (quitting tobacco, new diet, exercise, taking medicine)
  • Going back to work
  • Fatigue

Survivors can learn coping techniques for life after cancer through support services. Social workers and providers help people with:

  • Physical and emotional side effects
  • Prescription assistance
  • Scheduling follow-up tests
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Genetic counseling
  • Financial assistance
  • Care planning (home care, assisted living, etc.)

Survivors have an upcoming chance to share and help each other at the annual Cancer Survivors Retreat.

“We want survivors to live happy and productive lives after their cancer treatments,” Harden commented.

Journey to Wellness: Life after Cancer is May 7, at the Allerton Park and Retreat Center in Monticello, Ill., and is made possible through support from Carle Center for Philanthropy.


(Cover photo of Sarah Adams courtesy by Karolina Marczewski)