CANCER TREAMENT
How does Cancer Survivorship actually feel?
Chad Walkaden, Director & Primary Practitioner
28 June 2018
Cancer survivorship is a term that, among other things, focuses on the quality of life for people who have finished their treatment or who continue to face treatment over the long term. Some may say that Cancer Survivorship starts at the point of diagnosis. I disagree with this and I will tell you why.
For the past four years, my focus has centred around formulating a methodology that best supports people with cancer to manage the emotional and psychological challenges that are likely to be associated with their circumstances. Similar to the development of many products, my methodology was developed out of a necessity to do things better than was previously available. Then, throughout the process of early stage testing, my methodology evolved to place me in the position of being able to demonstrate an increase in quality of life for 73% of participants who have benefited from my program.
To everyone, finishing treatment signalled a relief, a victory, a change. This was also felt by me. I know it was. My tears when walking out of my last treatment are evidence of that. Each tear reflected my relief, joy, accomplishment and much more. But, the reality is that it is not over. Not yet.
To date, it has undoubtedly been my personal experiences that have given me the insight required to develop these strategies. Now, it seems that I am again leveraging off my personal experiences to support my growing understanding about what Cancer Survivorship actually means and how cancer survivorship programs need to operate.
It was only four weeks ago, when almost half a decade of continuing cancer treatment finished. Since then, I have noticed many changes that are distinctive about this transition. The sense of freedom and choice are two points that first come to my mind. I no longer need to limit my travel plans to blocks of 17 days to adhere to a treatment schedule or calculate many months in advance to see if a proposed meeting, event or celebration clashes with a treatment day. Also, importantly, my identity has shifted and it is this point that has had a rippling affect to those closest to me. To everyone, finishing treatment signalled a relief, a victory, a change. This was also felt by me. I know it was. My tears when walking out of my last treatment are evidence of that. Each tear reflected my relief, joy, accomplishment and much more. But, the reality is that it is not over. Not yet.

For many people with cancer, finishing treatment does not mean the end to mental and emotional turmoil. That does not mean it cannot and won’t change. But, it is recognition that there is likely to be a heightened time of anxiety and fear. Let’s think about. Since being diagnosed, my primal evolutionary wiring has been activated. That means, a lot of my energy and focus for the past four years has been based around my survival. Some of it was obviously valid but a lot more of it was exaggerated. For instance, one of the most remembered symptoms that I experienced prior to the discovery of the initial cancer was a sore throat that persisted sporadically over a period of a four to six weeks. 13 months later, a sore throat again lead to my first diagnosis. So does that mean that the sore throat that I have had over the past few days is an indicator that there may be new reoccurrence? Of course not. But, I am certain that some of you may suspect that is the case and it is definitely where my mind wanted to go.

 

Since being diagnosed, my primal evolutionary wiring has been activated. That means, a lot of my energy and focus for the past four years has been based around my survival. Some of it was obviously valid but a lot more of it was exaggerated

 

There is another way to see my sore throat and that is through a lens that is a part of my methodology. A lens that sees the sore throat as a symbol of normality that has returned into my life. A lens that gives my brain new knowledge to compute. Knowledge that a sore throat can just be a sore throat. Knowledge that I am on my path to creating a new narrative. A narrative that was only possible from overcoming what once stood in front of me. A narrative that is based on possibility rather than fear. A narrative that I am continuing to construct for myself and for the many other people around the world who also need to make sense of what Cancer Survivorship means to them.

 

 

 

What I am describing above is a reflection of what all of our minds do. One of the primary functions of our brain is to collate information and then present it to us in a way that gives us the very worst case scenario. That process has kept us alive for many thousands of years. However, at the same time, that very function has kept us trapped and unable to live in the present moment.

Within this article there are several points that I think are equally applicable for people with cancer and for doctors and or professionals working in Cancer Survivorship to consider. These key points include:

1. The importance of seeing Cancer Survivorship as a distinctive transitionary phase that involves an individual experiencing significant psychological and emotional challenges.

2. Awareness that individuals may have a greater likelihood of being better able to manage these psychological and emotional adjustments when they have learned skills in a prior intervention that occurred at an earlier phase in their cancer journey.

3. The necessity of individuals approaching the end of treatment to consider receiving professional coaching that supports them to develop or review personalised strategies that focuses on the likely changes that they will encounter.

 

WATCH THE BELOW VIDEO TO LEARN ABOUT HOW YOU OR YOUR PATIENTS CAN BENEFIT FROM MY PROGRAMS? 

 

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