Survivorship Care Planning

After completing active cancer treatment or living with metastatic colorectal cancer, a survivorship care plan helps you maintain your health post-treatment or while on maintenance therapy. Plan ahead now.

All cancer patients who have completed treatment should receive a personalized summary of the treatment they received and a detailed plan of ongoing care, called a survivorship care plan. Ongoing care includes things like follow-up schedules for your next visits, tests, scans, as well as recommendations for managing any treatment-related side effects or other health problems you may encounter.

While the term “survivor” is used to describe anyone at any point in their cancer experience, from diagnosis to end of life, treatment summaries and survivorship care plans are specifically for those who have completed all active treatment. 

Active treatment has a goal of curing cancer, or leading to a patient being NED (no evidence of disease). Active treatment is different from maintenance therapy, which often has a goal of slowing or stopping the spread of cancer.

Fight CRC has worked with the top experts in survivorship care to curate a list of videos, resources, and downloads for cancer survivors for those who have completed treatment, and those with metastatic colorectal cancer on maintenance therapy. 

Survivorship Care Planning Resources

Carlin Callaway, DNP, RN from the University of Colorado Cancer Center gives an overview of cancer survivorship and what to expect after active treatment ends.

Creating a Survivorship Care Plan

Questions to ask about your plan

As you begin to turn the corner and enter survivorship, here are some suggested questions for that first conversation with your doctor about survivorship care planning.

  • Who can help me create a full record of my treatment history to date?
  • Which doctors should I see for which type of care?
  • How often should I have routine visits?
  • What’s my schedule for post-treatment follow-up tests?
  • What problems should I report to which doctor?
  • What long-term and late effects can I expect from the treatment I received?
  • What can I do to maintain my health and well-being?
  • If I need accommodations at work, can you help me with that?
  • Can you refer me to a support group or someone to talk to for my emotional health?

What’s in a plan?

The GI Cancers Alliance developed a comprehensive survivorship care plan to help facilitate a dialogue between patients and their healthcare team. This tool aims to empower the GI cancer patient community and equip them with the necessary tools to make decisions alongside their care team, by asking questions about:

  • Patient Information
  • Caregiver Information
  • Healthcare Provider Information
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment Plan
  • Clinical Trials
  • Treatment-Related Side Effects
  • Financial/Insurance
  • Post-Treatment Follow-Up Plan
  • Schedule of Follow-Up Surveillance
  • Schedule of Follow-Up MD Visits
  • Questions to Ask Physician
  • Resources and Support Services
  • Glossary of GI Cancer and Treatment Terms
  • Tips for Effective Communication

In this video, Martha Raymond, MA, founder and CEO of the Raymond Foundation, discusses the survivorship care plan developed by the GI Cancer’s Alliance.

Physical Activity and Nutrition

Research shows that a healthy lifestyle can decrease the risk of CRC coming back (recurrence). Components of a healthy lifestyle include:

  • Healthy weight maintenance
  • Staying physically active (30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity at least five days a week)
  • Reducing alcohol use
  • Quitting smoking
  • Eating a healthy diet (low in red meat and processed foods) that emphasizes plant sources
  • Limiting sun exposure

Talk with your doctor, and partner with family or friends to help you stick to a healthy lifestyle.

Physical Activity

Cathy Jankowski, PhD, Associate Professor at the University of Colorado College of Nursing explains the importance of physical activity for those touched by cancer. Whether you’re new to exercise or a star athlete, watch this webinar to get tips for staying active as a CRC survivor.

Nutrition and Diet

In this video, Candice Schreiber, RD, CSO, LD, a JamesCare for Life outpatient clinical dietician, discusses general nutrition guidance for CRC survivors. Nutrition and diet play a huge role in the management of CRC and into survivorship, as they can help manage some side effects and may reduce your risk of a cancer recurrence. We recognize diets that work for some survivors may not work for others; there can even be big changes between what works for someone one year, and what works the next. We also recognize that some survivors cannot follow certain diets due to effects of treatments. For a more tailored discussion on physical health and nutrition, be sure to register and join the live interactive session with Drs. Cathy Jankowski and Erin Van Blarigan this summer.

Managing Your Mental Health

Just as cancer affects your physical health, it can bring up a wide range of feelings you’re not used to dealing with and can make existing feelings seem more intense. These videos, presented by Marianne Pearson, Director, Supportive Oncology at the University of Colorado Hospital, cover psychosocial aspects of cancer survivorship for people who have completed active treatment, and for those who are on maintenance therapy.

Life as a Survivor

Gain Strength From Other Survivors

It’s good to talk with and learn from others who share what you’re going through. When you talk to other survivors, you’ll quickly realize that you’re not alone. Look into:

Gain a New Perspective on Your Strength and Life

It is not uncommon for cancer survivors to gain a different perspective on life after diagnosis. Often, there’s a search for meaning, or a reprioritization of things that are important in life. For some, these are surprisingly positive influences of cancer. While everyone has a different experience, some cancer survivors have described the following to be important:

  • Do things that make you happy
  • Spend more positive time with family, friends, and loved ones
  • Seek a more meaningful job
  • Volunteer to help others
  • Become a colorectal cancer advocate
  • Focus on your health: quit smoking, eat better, exercise more
  • Tap into your fighting spirit
  • Enjoy each moment
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