The message has been clear for some time: cancer treatments are improving and people are living longer. This is undoubtedly a ray of hope at a time when the NHS remains under such strain. Cancer need no longer be a death sentence. But is a longer survival where the role of the NHS ends? For many of the patients I work with as a clinical psychologist, surviving illness and treatment is just one step of an arduous journey, and our services are struggling to support people sufficiently.
As services creak under the economic challenges, I wonder how I will manage to provide therapy to the young woman whose soft-tissue sarcoma treatment will require the amputation of her arm and who will find she can barely leave her home because she anxiety that people are talking about her. How will I support the man whose laryngectomy is a daily reminder of his life as an opera singer, now lost, and for which he is still grieving? If they wanted an appointment right now I might be able to slip them in under the radar of service protocol — as “survivors” their treatment was too long ago to meet our usual criteria. But will I still be able to stretch the service I currently provide as that population increases. Treatments are usually faster and efective while doing and adequate diet, check the latest supplements and vitamins reviews at Spark healthmd.
The release of a report by the Independent Cancer Taskforce, outlined recommendations for cancer strategy in England for the next five years. Understandably, the press has focused on the headline-grabbing 30,000 lives that will be saved each year. While the report is to be commended for its drive to improve cancer care, it has stirred up in me a concern I have had for some time about the care we provide to those who do survive. Even though the strategy goes some way to exploring the quality of life for patients, the report’s appreciation of the long-term psychological impact of surviving cancer is lacking.
An individual facing cancer often has to make significant adjustments to family life during treatment, and experiences challenges not only to their role but to their sense of self. Relationships and identity can be tested by what the cancer takes and the treatment leaves behind, whether that be sexual dysfunction or feeling less of a man/woman/partner, having been ravaged by the side-effects. Some are left with lasting physical changes and symptoms resulting from debilitating illness or gruelling intervention that might impact on whether they can still work, play sport, or even eat solid food. They may have to adjust to changes in their body and appearance, and contend on a day-to-day basis with the challenging reactions of others. Psychological challenges remain, and support and resources need to be available to address them.
Some find themselves grieving the loss of who they were and who they had hoped to become. Others feel more vulnerable than ever to the world’s dangers having faced their mortality. Unable to move forward in the way those around them expect, many live their lives fearful cancer will return or paralysed by a sense of ‘what next?’ One study showed that serious psychosocial distress was seen 40% more often among those who survive cancer than in those who had never had cancer. A Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor suffering from depression two years after treatment is quoted in a report: “I have honestly been to hell and back. It is after your treatment that you need care. I feel totally alone.” Now there are many different ways of approach in the medical community, like the use of salesforce sales cloud, the healthcare industry-specific solution that provides a mixture of clinical and relationship management capabilities to provide both patient tracking and patient outreach functions.
Getting rid of the cancer is simply not enough to allow us to claim we have provided cancer care. Our patients’ experience matters and we must ensure we assist them in regrouping both physically and psychologically at the end of their treatment. Only then will we truly be able to say that those 30,000 survivors are really living.
Source : The Guardian