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Cancer Survivors Cope with Long-term Issues

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http://wcbstv.com/seenon/Cancer.Survivo ... 40245.html


"Future Health and Social Status Issues"

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NEW YORK (CBS) ― More than 12 million people in this country are cancer survivors, and most of those are learning to cope with long-term health issues they and their doctors never really addressed. CBS 2's Dr. Max Gomez explains one way survivors are dealing with this challenge together.

It starts out with surgery, or radiation, and often finishes with chemotherapy or new targeted drugs, including immune therapies. For millions of cancer patients, it results in being a survivor – but that transition can be surprisingly difficult.

"I've been getting chemotherapy, keeping it at bay. What's going to happen now?" asked cancer survivor Nicholas Debrul. "I've had surgery. How am I going to find somebody who's going to love me?"

Debrul had bone cancer that almost cost him his leg 26 years ago, and had many questions during and after his recovery.

"Is this going to affect having children in the future?" Debrul asked. "How are my peers going to interact with me?"

Clara Dale had lung cancer seven years ago and had part of her lung removed. Amy Blumenfeld had Hodgkin's lymphoma 21 years ago, but it was a decade after her bone marrow transplant before she came to grips with what it meant to be a cancer survivor.

"It affected dating and disclosure and, ultimately, fertility issues…I realized it doesn't just affect me," Blumenfeld said. "It affects my husband, it affects my daughter, it affects my parents, my brother, his wife, it's not just you."

That's what led Mary McCabe to help develop the Cancer Survivorship Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which gives survivors tools for their future, including ways to help make sense of life after cancer.

"Diet and exercise, continuing to have cancer screenings, communication with community physicians, primary care internist – all making sure everyone is on the same page with what needs to be done," McCabe said. "It also helps survivors to understand that they are not the same person they were before their cancer."

Dale also had trouble addressing her problems after cancer.

"It was shocking for me to have such a trauma, and yet nobody in my social life, or my work life, really addressed that," she said. "There were no visible signs to them, [and] nobody really knew what to say. And can you trust yourself? Can I trust my body again? There's the terrorist within, for me."

Blumenfeld eventually began to embrace the positive impact being a survivor had on her life, and to recognize how it made her a better person.

"It gave me a lot of strength, made me have to realize [that] I don't have to deal with this stuff, you know. I'm above that, I've seen things, I've done things that these kids have never, hopefully they never, will have to," she said. "And it gave me the strength to combat stupid questions and, if people would stare at me, to stare right back at them. And in that sense it gave me, in a sense, a gift."

Debrul also found strength when he came to terms with his cancer survival.

"You are focused only on the things that are important to you," Debrul said. "You just don't have the time and energy to focus on the other things."

Surviving cancer also gave them the strength to persevere against the odds. Blumenfeld now has a 2-year-old baby daughter named Mia, and Debrul has a 6-year-old daughter named Gabrielle. Both were born with the help of advanced in vitro fertilization techniques.

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(WCBSTV.com, Article and Video, June 4, 2008)


The information contained in these articles may or may not be in agreement with my own opinions. They are not posted as medical advice of any kind.

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