The prospect of weeks, months or years of cancer treatment is daunting. But what’s also worrisome is the question of what comes next.
Today’s cancer survivors have the benefit of an intensive medical and social network of caregivers who educate, guide, rehabilitate and support them through this crucial period.
“The main goal is to bring each patient back to the best quality of life,” says Dr. Alan Wan, a hematologist and oncologist for Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital in McHenry – one of 11 area hospitals in the Northwestern system.
As their treatment concludes, each patient at Northwestern Medicine receives a personalized cancer survival plan that teaches them what to look for.
Northwestern Medicine also offers support services at the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center in Geneva, where experts help to educate, support and guide patients and their families through diagnosis and treatment.
Regular physician visits and testing help to ensure future medical issues are caught quickly.
One of the most vital aspects of cancer treatment and survival is managing fear. Jessica Sima, an oncology nurse navigator with Northwestern Medicine Cancer Center in McHenry, says patients are sometimes more worried about survival than they are about treatment.
“They come to me at every stage of their cancer treatment, and each person has a different way of handling their unique situation,” Sima says. “Some aren’t certain who they should see, while others need the reassurance that they are on the right path.”
Education is an essential part of Sima’s work, as patients navigate through treatment and beyond. She continues connecting long into survivorship.
“The long-term side effects of cancer aren’t just medical,” she says. “Fear, emotional upset, financial constraints, fertility questions, and the changes to their home and work brought on by cancer are just some of the issues that survivors face.” ❚
Northwestern Medicine maintains 11 hospitals across the Chicago area, with locations in Geneva, Wheaton, Winfield, DeKalb, Sandwich, McHenry, Huntley and Woodstock.