Survivorship, Rehabilitation, Living Well
The Seasons of Survivorship; A Patient/ Family Model
Adapted from Mullens, F. (1985): Seasons of survivorship; reflections of a physician with cancer. New England Journal of Medicine. July 25, Vol 31. p270-273.
Improvements in diagnosis and treatment for cancer mean more people than ever are being treated successfully with the expectation of long term survival. More than one in three New Zealanders will develop cancer in their lifetime (Cancer Registry 2007) and with continuing improvements in cancer care, this results in increasing numbers of survivors of cancer.
Survivorship (or rehabilitation or living well) is defined by the US National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, as starting from the point of initial cancer diagnosis and continuing through the balance of life. However as we researched the literature on survivorship it was recognised that there are a growing group of people whose survivorship needs are not adequately addressed. For example “The Voice of Experience” published by the NZ Cancer Control Council (December 2009) has shown that patients’ wanted more attention paid to their ongoing health and information needs.
Experience tells us (reflected in the diagram above), that the journey of survivorship involves not only the patient but also their family members. It involves many components too such as making the transition after the treatment phase back to normal life, when there may be uncertainty and shared anxiety, through to recovery and rehabilitation. Recovery and rehabilitation may include adjusting to the “new normal you” and this may involve dealing with the long term effects of cancer and its treatment and to moving forward to health promotion and changing health behaviours. We recognise that rehabilitation/ survivorship can also be a time of seeking help to manage changing health behaviours such as diet, nutrition and exercise, smoking cessation and mental health care among others. Survivorship/ rehabilitation programmes are in their infancy in New Zealand but the impetus is here and moving forward.
This information will be updated as programmes get up and running throughout the region.
Useful websites that may be of help and interest to you in the interim:
Bridge to Health is a survivorship programme run by the Otago Southland Cancer Society, in association with the Univesity of Otago.