McLeod Health Blog

Welcome to Our Blog.

At McLeod Health, we are dedicated to providing useful health and medical information to our community. Take a look at our blog categories and choose those that interest you. Be sure to subscribe to each category of interest and we will send you new blog articles as they are posted.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
Posted on in Cancer

Surviving Cancer. The New Normal

My whole life has been about changing negatives into positives.”  Actress and cancer survivor Fran Drescher from her book Cancer Schmancer.

Drescher is just one of many famous cancer survivors. The list includes TV anchormen (CBS’s Bob Schieffer), rock musicians (Eddie Van Halen), professional golfers (Paul Azinger), politicians (former New York Mayor Rudi Guliani), and actors (Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, and Mandy Patinkin).

Although there is still no cure for cancer, today’s treatments are proving more effective. According to the American Cancer Society, the U.S. death rate from cancer has fallen 20% from 1991-2009. Since 1991, death rates have also dropped 30% for breast cancer in women and lung cancer in men.

Early detection of cancer, more accurate diagnoses, more effective treatments and better follow up care are the primary reasons for the growing number of survivors. For women who are diagnosed early with Stage I (small tumor) breast cancer, the survival rate is nearly 100%.

Some places offer special programs for survivors. “At McLeod, the STAR Program®, Survivorship Training and Rehab, is designed to help the survivor rebuild their physical health, while offering social and emotional support that is often overlooked,” says Senior Occupational Therapist Ashley Atkinson.

So, the good news is that as a cancer survivor, you may have a long, active, fulfilling life. Despite the positive outlook for physical health, cancer survivors do face emotional pitfalls.

Studies have shown that the fear of recurrence, often triggered by unexplained pain, can cause debilitating fear and anxiety. About 1/3 of cancer survivors reported this problem. In its worst form, a person suffers emotional paralysis -- unable to commit to getting married, changing jobs or moving to another city.

Nearly 20% of cancer survivors experience what could be described as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Also in a similarity to soldiers, some survivors suffer “survivor’s guilt.” Guilty for still living, while their comrades – in this case -- members of their cancer support group – didn’t make it.

Final thought. If – as it seems – surviving cancer is to become the new normal, then survivors, their families and medical professionals need to find psychological support for these expected issues. It could be a special support group for survivors and their spouses. Or it might be professional counseling. Or simply a "girls’ night out” for a handful of cancer survivors to share their feelings.

To find a physician, click here.

Sources: Science Daily, American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts & Figures for 2013, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Harvard Health Publications, National Institutes of Health, CancerConnet.com, Oncology Nursing Society, Cancer-survivors.org

The information on this site is intended to increase your awareness and understanding of specific health issues and
services at McLeod Health. It should not be used for diagnosis or as a substitute for health care by your physician.
To report technical issues, please contact us. Public Access to Information or To Report a Concern.

©2012 McLeod Health. Download Vendor Code of Conduct | HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices | Patient Bill of Rights
Report a Concern | Visitation | Download McLeod Health Mission & Values