Survival rates for children and teens diagnosed with cancer have greatly improved thanks to better treatments. Although cured of cancer, many survivors are at risk for health problems after treatment, called late effects. As a survivor, it is important that you receive regular follow-up with a survivor clinic to be screened for any health problems in order to address and treat late effects before they become serious.
Survivorship care is not only focused on medical follow-up. Cancer treatment can impact survivors in many different ways including school performance, job training and social and psychological well-being. This is why survivor clinics have psychologists and social workers available to address social and emotional challenges after treatment. There are also other services and resources that may be helpful to you as a survivor. Ask your survivor providers for more information about the following services:
- Psychologists who are familiar with childhood cancer survivors can help you with a variety of emotional and mental health issues including depression and anxiety.
- School coordinators – School and learning are important parts of childhood. There are many resources available to help survivors who may be experiencing difficulties with school. Psychologists and School coordinators help families navigate the school system.
- Vocation rehabilitation programs help people with disabilities to become fully productive members of society by achieving independence and meaningful employment. Young adult survivors may benefit from vocational rehab services.
- Social workers & financial counselors can assist families with questions about insurance, medical related finances as well as planning for successful transition to adulthood.
- Support organizations – There are local and national organizations where survivors can access education, receive support services or connect with other survivor families. CURE Childhood Cancer, National Childhood Cancer Society, and Camp Sunshine all provide services which are available for survivors.
- Physical therapists & nutritionists – Eating well and getting exercise can help survivors stay healthy. Physical therapists can help improve physical function and healthy exercise programs for survivors. Nutritionists and the Strong4Life program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta offer resources for families to stay active and choose healthy lifestyle habits.
- Cancer SurvivorLink is a website created for survivors to learn about healthcare after cancer treatment, store important health documents and share this health information with their many doctors. SurvivorLink can help you advocate for your survivor care with other healthcare providers you may see, like primary care doctors or specialists
Our goal in survivorship is to help you lead healthy and productive lives. We can do this through screening for late effects of cancer treatment and by linking you to resources for non-medical challenges after cancer treatment.
We hope to see you at the Beyond the Cure conference on February 25, 2017. The conference is free of charge and will run from 8 am to 1 pm at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. Register for the conference here: www.choa.org/beyondthecure
Brooke Cherven, MPH, RN, CPON and Lillian Meacham, MD