Once cancer treatment has concluded, patients and their families move beyond treatment into a survivorship program called STEP Ahead (Surviving, Thriving, Encouraging and Preparing).
Survivorship for You
Following a cancer diagnosis, you will begin your survivorship. Regardless of the type of cancer you have or type of treatment received, STEP Ahead was created to help you thrive and reach your fullest potential. Here, we encourage and support you to live a healthy lifestyle through diet, exercise and smoking cessation (for those who currently smoke). We also help you prepare by discussing possible symptoms of late effects from treatment which should also be reported to your oncologist and/or primary care physician. Through this program, you are supported mind, body and spirit through education, support and care as you transition into post-treatment life, with the understanding that survivorship may mean different things to different people.
Some patients and families struggle with the completion of cancer treatment and the transition back to usual routines. Sometimes fatigue, depression, anxiety and other feelings can continue after active treatment is over. It may take time for these issues to resolve, which is normal. Some patients may also need assistance with physical problems. DMG’s STEP Ahead program provides a continued link of support and guidance from your healthcare team to address any late effects and help you along your way to recovery.
Your Survivorship Appointments
Your first appointment after treatment will be with an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN). At this time, you will have the opportunity to discuss how you feel physically and emotionally and learn about available survivorship resources. You will also receive important health information summarizing your cancer treatment and follow-up guidelines tailored specifically for you by your care team.
Because every patient has different needs, every survivorship plan will be different. However, there are some common elements that you can expect during your visit:
- Survivorship visits will be treated as a follow-up appointment with an APN. You will be responsible for your normal co-payment, if applicable.
- The ideal time to schedule your first survivorship appointment is 3-4 weeks after cancer treatment has been completed (with the exception of anti-hormonal medications for breast cancer patients).
- Consider talking with your physician about scheduling a survivorship appointment when you receive your last chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
- A survivorship visit does not take the place of your regular follow-up visits with your oncologist, who you will continue to follow-up with at the recommended intervals such as every 3-4 months or every 6 months.
- Coordination of an appointment with a dietitian can be arranged to provide help with your nutrition and diet if necessary.
- If you need help with strength or endurance, you will be referred to physical therapy.
- If you are experiencing depression or anxiety, discuss this during your appointment.
Follow-up Visits and Care Coordination
To ensure that you continue to receive the care you need following treatment, we encourage you to schedule a Survivorship visit. Please note, it is important to keep your primary care physician informed of your progress, so they will be updated after your visit.
Other Survivorship Resources Offered By DMG
For a complete list of support programs and partners please refer to the Cancer Resources & Support, visit the Cancer Resource Center or call 630-364-7431.
We understand a cancer journey can be a long and difficult one. We hope our STEP Ahead program can help you in your journey back to a positive recovery.