Thursday, December 11, 2014

After cancer treatment is just as important

You get a cancer diagnosis and then they tell you how they want to slash, poison and burn your body to get rid of the cancer. But they rarely discuss the issues of life with your dismantled body after treatment.

I had no idea what I was getting into when at 19 I had my thyroid removed. I didn't understand for the rest of my life, I would need to take a little bottle of pills with me. Or that after breast cancer treatment, I would have surgery scars embossed into my skin thanks to radiation shortly after. Never mind neuropathy and chemo brain. And we can't forget our friends PTSD, anxiety, and depression, among others.

So when you are preparing for your cancer treatment, you also need to take the time to think about the long term and late effects, as they are known. These can include secondary cancers, infertility, and heart, bone and lung problems. Yeah, right. The first response to 'you have cancer' is something along the lines of 'get it out of me!'. No one wants to wait and weigh the benefits of do we get rid of the cancer or do we worry about the long term effects, if the first cancer doesn't kill you in the meantime?

That's not happening. Now that we know that patients can live and thrive for decades after treatment, perhaps we need cancer treatments which are do not leave long lasting physical scars. I know now there are oral cancer treatments where daily pills can remove the cancer but also bring strong side effects. They are a step in the right direction but we aren't there yet. Life after cancer is just as important as life before cancer. We want to be able to enjoy it too.

More research is needed please.

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