Recovery is not always the end of the cancer experience
The Hutchinson Center is working hard to move patients beyond cancer to wellness
By Colleen Steelquist, Hutchinson Center Science Editor
I recently interviewed Frankie White, who beat a colorectal cancer diagnosis nine years ago when she was just 36. Getting cancer in her third decade means Frankie will likely spend the majority of her life as a cancer survivor.
Frankie admits that even now—nearly 10 years later—cancer’s still on her mind. Though cancer-free, she understandably gets a little anxious when it’s time for her routine follow-up tests, recalling the life-altering moment when such tests found cancer. “But I don’t want to live my life in fear of recurrence,” she said. “I’ve been cured. There has to be a purpose for my life. I don’t want to waste it in fear.”
Thanks to earlier detection, improved treatments and the supportive care of family and friends, Frankie is one of more than 10 million cancer survivors in the U.S. One out of every six people over 65 is a cancer survivor, and 1.4 million were diagnosed more than 20 years ago.
As many survivors have learned, however, recovery is not always the end of the cancer experience. Cancer recurrence or secondary cancers remain a possibility. Treatments can bring health issues requiring lifelong surveillance. Finally, cancer can leave emotional and social scars.
Thriving after cancer requires optimism, diligence—and research. After decades of focus on treating cancer, researchers like those in our Survivorship Program are tackling the challenge of helping survivors achieve a decent quality of life for many years after treatment has ended. Survivors like Frankie need guidance on ways to optimize their health and diminish the after-effects of cancer. Our survivorship research helps inform evidence-based advice for survivors everywhere.
If you’re a cancer survivor, a friend or family member of a survivor, or a health care provider, you won’t want to miss our annual Moving Beyond Cancer to Wellness event on June 2 at the Hutchinson Center.
It’s a free symposium that’s open to all, regardless of where your cancer treatment took place. The event offers breakout sessions led by experts in the fields of nutrition, complementary and alternative medicine, fatigue and energy, relationships and intimacy, emotional adaptation, exercise, cognitive function, bone health, lymphedema, insurance rights, late effects from cancer treatment and more. Registration is required at email@example.com.
Cancer research, after all, is our middle name. That means we’re committed to both curing cancer and to helping survivors like Frankie thrive for a lifetime.