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Life Beyond Breast Cancer Treatment
The end of breast cancer treatment signals a new phase of your life and care. Many find they face new issues and concerns, perhaps feeling more alone, because in the eyes of their support system, they have completed treatment and are back to a "new normal."
Regaining a sense of balance and normalcy afterward can be as challenging as the disease itself. The reality for a majority of patients is there are a number of short- and long-term physical, psychological and financial effects to cope with following medical treatment for breast cancer — what is often referred to as the “new normal.” And, complicating things further, there are often minimal structures in place to ensure communication between a patient’s oncology and primary care health care team once treatment is completed.
Recognizing this need, Johns Hopkins launched its Breast Cancer Survivorship Program
Survivorship Care Planning
Nurse Practitioner, Carol Riley discusses common side-effect after treatment, the importance of survivorship care plans, coordination of medical care between oncology and primary care providers, and wellness activities after breast cancer. p>
The Breast Cancer Survivorship Program
The clinic exists to address your individual needs. Our specialists will:
- Develop an individualized survivorship or transition care plan for after your treatment that will review cancer treatments received and detail which tests should be ordered by which practitioner in the future
- Determine other evaluations or referrals, including genetic risk assessment or reconstructive surgery
- Identify and help manage current or potential late side effects of treatment
- Discuss coordination of medical care and possible follow up care such as psychosocial support, bone health, cancer rehabilitation, sexual health, fertility or nutrition
- Provide educational support, including helpful information on topics such as reducing the risk of recurrence and embracing survivorship as a family
- Provide access to online education through blogs, videos and social media
- Provide access to informational webinars that many times include live Q&A
- Share new research being conducted at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center
- Offer suggestions and referrals for wellness activities
- Provide support group information to assist in your transition of care
Surviving and Thriving: Elissa’s Story
For many patients like Elissa Bantug, a two-time breast cancer survivor and program manager of the Johns Hopkins Breast Cancer Survivorship Program, living through treatment is only half the story.
Watch: Survive and Thrive - Breast Cancer Survivorship Video Series
“I remember being so scared when my oncologist said he did not need to see me on a regular basis anymore,” Elissa says. “There was no warning and no preparation — like a Band-Aid being ripped off. I realized I’d grown to depend on the very appointments I’d loathed. At some point during my treatment, without me even being conscious of it, those appointments had become my security blanket.”
For Elissa, life after cancer has developed into more than a series of medical milestones. “As I move further from treatment, having cancer no longer is the singular most important piece about my identity. That’s not to say that I, nor even most patients, don’t occasionally think about it; but it no longer dictates every avenue of my life as it once did. Cancer has earned a piece of me, just as has being a wife, daughter and mother.”
Elissa also has written blog posts for the Kimmel Cancer Center’s blog, Cancer Matters.
Meet our Survivors
Elissa and her colleagues felt strongly that breast cancer survivors should hear from fellow survivors about the health issues they faced and how to move forward after treatment ends. Watch our library of survivor video clips filmed during focus groups. Topics include finding your “new” normal, survivorship care planning, sexuality, body image and fear of recurrence.
For more information about the Johns Hopkins Breast Cancer Survivorship Program, contact Elissa Bantugfirstname.lastname@example.org