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National Cancer Institute

Status of Cancer Survivorship Interventions

“Building a Bridge to Cancer Survivors” a personal reflection by Marion Burch Cimbala

President/Owner, Body Therapy Center

For many reasons, returning to our lives can be more of a challenge than fighting the disease. What is necessary is a strategy that will include ways to address moving on with life, managing the physical, financial, and emotional effects of the cancer, and continuing to heal.

The Pathways to Health conference provided exposure to in depth research and programming directed at improving quality of life for cancer survivors. We also reviewed the 2003-2004 Annual Report from the Presidents Cancer Panel, entitled Living Beyond Cancer: Finding a New Balance. This report was of particular interest because the information and recommendations encourage appropriate intervention from the medical community during and after treatment, which have the potential to positively impact the lives of every cancer survivor.

I believe the challenge before us is making access to the knowledge and recommendations in this report a reality for all cancer patients. Despite the fact that I received excellent medical care from my physicians, none of the recommendations in the Presidents Cancer Panel report were a part of my experience during or after treatment. My experience has been shared by others. I have attempted to follow up with the medical offices regarding several of the issues. It has been challenging, and mostly unsuccessful. As a businessperson, it seems logical that unless there are incentives in place to provide the recommended interventions to cancer patients, there is little hope of success in a medical system that is already challenged. If practical considerations prevent delivery of survivorship interventions through the traditional health care system, then perhaps consideration should be given to other innovative options for delivery of these interventions, such as the use of public health campaigns, or the Internet.

It is my intention to continue learning about and develop strategies for practical application of these programs of Living Beyond Cancer, so that we can ensure these recommendations can be provided to every cancer patient. Regardless of the how good the research, information, and programs are, and no matter how recommended survivorship interventions can improve the quality of our lives, unless cancer survivors hear the information, we have failed.

The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government and they may not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.