COSA Conference - Cancer Survivorship 2021
Life Force attended the recent COSA (Clinical Oncology Society of Australia) conference in March this year.
Particularly interesting were discussions around…
• Supporting survivors to address long term biopsychosocial consequences of cancer and treatment to optimise living well.
• Equality and equity in cancer care.
• Stigma and discrimination resulting in poorer access to healthcare for minority groups.
• Some of the barriers to First Nations peoples engaging in healthcare.
Survivorship brings with it many challenges
In 2001, Life Force Cancer Foundation in conjunction with TAFE NSW, conducted what was one of the first programs to address survivorship issues, called “Life Skills for Cancer Survivors”, a nine week course for people struggling to deal with the many challenges that arise in the aftermath of cancer. The course addressed personal, relationship and work issues, and taught skills to help cancer survivors recover their sense of self and re-engage with life – a kind of survival kit.
The end of treatment does not mean the end of cancer’s effect on your life. In fact, it can be just the beginning, as the enormity of the experience really hits.
Life Force is hoping to deliver this course again in the near future.
Going back to “Normal”
Many people find themselves floundering once they leave the caring arms of their treatment team, when active treatment has been completed. This is a critical stage of recovery, as patients are thrust back into the world and expected to get on with life. They might feel lost, alone and unsupported. All these feelings are normal. Facing these feelings and learning how to deal with them is important.
Learning to live with uncertainty
Fear of recurrence is a natural response, and fears, worries and anxiety can plague people causing sleeplessness, difficulty relating to partners and close family and friends. Finding support is important. Being able to express your feelings of fear or uncertainty with a support group can be liberating. Being open and dealing with emotions helps many people feel less worried. Putting the lid on these emotions doesn’t make them go away. Learning skills to manage disturbing thoughts and feelings is important. Relaxation techniques and guided imagery are wonderful ways of coping with distressing emotions.
Finding support to enhance resilience
Emotional support can be a powerful tool for both cancer survivors and their families. Talking with others who are in situations like yours can help ease loneliness. You can also learn life skills to support your immune system and optimise healthy living. Support in any form allows you to express your feelings and develop coping skills. Studies have found that people who take part in support groups have an improved quality of life, including better sleep, appetite and general outlook. Group members can share tears and laughter as they find their way forward together. Life Force Support groups can help survivors rebuild their lives after cancer.
Call Caro: 0425 296 698 or Jane: 0412 643 751 or for NSW regional programs call Jilly on 0408 610 362