Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Making a Survivor Care Plan (as read in New Connections)

I recently read that every cancer patient should have a survivor care plan, and after reading the article, I agree. Because I think it is SO important, I’ve copied much of the article for you here so that you can read it for yourself. If you would like to see the entire article, please go to the New Connections site of the American Cancer Society.

A survivor care plan is really a record of your cancer care that can help you monitor and maintain your health long after treatment ends. Your plan doesn't need to be complicated; in fact, it can start with a simple pen-and-paper list of information. At its most basic, your plan should include:
• The date of your diagnosis and the medical name of your cancer, along with a pathology report of any biopsies you had
• The name of the medical professionals who cared for you, including the doctor who diagnosed you and the doctors in charge of your treatments
• The type or types of treatment you received, as well as any potential side effects or long-term risks of that treatment
• If you had chemotherapy, the dates of your treatments, names and total dosage of the drugs
• If you had radiation, the dates of your treatments and the total dosage of radiation
• If you had surgery, the dates of your surgery and the names of the medical professionals who performed the operation
• Any complications you had from the cancer treatments or surgeries
• A list of any follow-up visits and the results of any tests conducted during those visits

You may have to go to different sources to get this information, but you should get it soon after treatment ends. Some doctors and hospitals are now helping patients create survivor care plans as they reach the end of cancer treatment. If you're working with your health care team, your plan may also include:
• Contact information for support groups
• Other support resources
• Tips for living a healthy lifestyle to reduce your risk of cancer recurrence or new cancers
• A schedule for screening for recurrences or to look for new cancers
• Information about your legal rights regarding employment and insurance
All of this information may prove valuable in the future, so it's a good idea to keep your survivor care plan in a safe and accessible place.

The last part of the article reminds everyone that treatment may one day be behind you, but it is important to take the time to create a survivor care plan now so you can be the best possible long-term advocate for your health.

Hope you've enjoyed this update! Hugs.