Your cancer survivorship begins at the time of diagnosis. Upon completion of treatment, the Survivorship Program is here to provide education and support as you begin life after cancer.
Patients that are in remission are referred to our Survivorship Clinic. During annual visits we provide:
- Education of long-term and potential side effects of treatment
- Prevention and health improvement strategies through physical activity and nutrition
- Coordination of follow-up care, including physician appointments and screenings
- Discussion of risks for other chronic diseases
- Referrals to professionals and programs that meet your specific needs
The Lifetime Clinic is available to patients who are in remission and five years out from their initial diagnosis.
Health and Wellness Support Groups
Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute wants to make sure you have the tools you need to live a healthy and happy life after cancer. To help you on your journey, we offer a variety of support groups and classes designed specifically for cancer survivors.
Healthy & Balanced
Healthy & Balanced is a weight loss and physical activity support group for cancer survivors.
Tai Chi for Cancer Patients & Survivors
An opportunity for cancer survivors to learn how to improve balance, breathing, and relaxation.
Yoga for Cancer Survivors
Our registered yoga instructor teaches cancer survivors to relax mind and body with gentle yoga.
Good nutrition is key to your health following cancer treatment. Eating right can help you with:
- Healing and recovery
- Regaining weight and strength
- Managing side effects
- Maintaining a healthy weight
Oncology Nutrition Services at Gibbs Cancer Center can help you understand how a healthy diet promotes good health after cancer treatment. Comprehensive, individualized sessions with an oncology-certified dietitian offer guidance to support your health in survivorship.
Exercise and physical activity produce many benefits after cancer treatment. As you move more, your body will regain function and your muscles will become stronger.
Regular exercise can:
- Improve your quality of life
- Reduce fatigue
- Decrease depression and anxiety
- Improve muscle strength and bone health
- Promote good sleep
- Strengthen your immune system
- Boost your appetite
- Allow you to maintain a healthy weight
You will want to return to normal daily activities as soon as possible after cancer treatment. As your cancer treatment side effects lessen, start building to 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. Give yourself plenty of time to increase your activity level.
Learn more about the importance of exercise in survivorship from the American Cancer Society.
Oncology Rehabilitation gives you the best chance to return to your activity level and regain the function that may have diminished. Participating in rehab can address the physical changes that you may have experienced from cancer, cancer treatment and the side effects of treatment.
The physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists at Gibbs Cancer Center specialize in the needs of cancer survivors. They can help with:
- Restoring functional mobility
- Increasing strength and endurance
- Improving hand function and self-care
- Easing swallowing difficulties
- Returning speech and voice abilities or using alternative methods of communication
Please talk with your doctor if you believe rehabilitation could help you. Oncology Rehabilitation is available at the Spartanburg and Pelham Gibbs Cancer Center locations.
Lifestyle and Behavior Modification
After cancer treatment, you may experience stress, anxiety, depression, fear that your cancer will recur, or other emotions that negatively impact your life. These issues can make it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle and lead to problems like trouble sleeping, headaches and digestive discomfort.
Making lifestyle changes that promote healthy sleep and relaxation can help you cope with your emotions. Get plenty of exercise and spend time outdoors in the sun. Remember that laughing and spending time with friends and loved ones are great ways to reduce stress and improve your mood.
By improving your sleep patterns and making lifestyle modifications, you can better manage your mental health in survivorship. Be sure to go to follow-up appointments with your oncologists and get regular checkups with your family doctor. Keeping up with doctor visits can reduce your uncertainty about your health.
Many cancer survivors experience concerns about physical intimacy following treatment. This is especially true of men who are treated for prostate cancer and women who have gynecological cancer or breast cancer.
Survivors who have had radiation or chemotherapy may experience side effects that affect sexuality and intimacy. While many side effects go away when treatment stops, some may linger. Loss of sensation, changes in bladder and bowel function, lowered libido, vaginal dryness, erectile dysfunction, anxiety, depression and an altered body image are common symptoms that affect sexual health.
It’s important to keep open lines of communication with both your partner and your healthcare provider. We can often recommend therapists, tools and techniques to improve your sexual function.
Hot flashes are a common problem among survivors of some types of cancer. For example, breast cancer survivors are six times more likely to experience hot flashes than people of the same age who have not been treated for breast cancer. Men who have received hormonal treatment for prostate cancer may also experience hot flashes.
A hot flash is a sudden feeling of extreme warmth across the upper portion of the body. Medication and alternative treatments can help limit the severity of hot flashes. Contact your health team at Gibbs Cancer Center for guidance.
Your cancer treatment may bring about early menopause. A host of body changes may occur in a relatively short time frame. Vaginal dryness is a frequent symptom that women experience after cancer treatment. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it can interfere with your sexual health.
Fortunately, vaginal dryness can be alleviated using over-the-counter remedies like lubricating moisturizers and medications. Discuss your symptoms with your care team to find a solution that works for you.
Many cancer survivors will experience bone loss faster than they would through the normal aging process. In fact, rates of bone loss are up to seven times higher among cancer survivors.
When your bones lose mass, you are at greater risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. To monitor your bone health, be sure to have a bone density test at least every two years and eat a diet with adequate amounts of calcium and Vitamin D. Learn more about maintaining your bone health in survivorship and discuss any specific issues with your care team at Gibbs Cancer Center.
Survivors of some head and neck cancers may have a tracheostomy or a surgical opening in the trachea that makes breathing easier. Living with a tracheostomy may be a little intimidating at first, but learning to care for your tracheostomy is vital for good health.
Be aware of the signs of infection, including:
- Cough that produces thick mucus
- Discharge from the opening
- Foul odor from the tracheostomy
- Redness, swelling or pain at the opening
Be sure to reach out to your care team if you experience any of these serious signs of infection.
Ostomy Care & Support
An ostomy is a surgical opening on your body that allows waste to pass through. Survivors of colorectal, bladder and other types of cancer may live with ostomies. Frequently, a bag or other mechanism collects waste from the opening.
While ostomies make it possible to manage your bodily functions, they need to be managed to work properly. Learn about ostomy management so you can enjoy an enhanced qualify of life following ostomy surgery. And since the best resource is others living with an ostomy, consider reaching out to an ostomy support group for emotional and practical support.
Many cancer survivors look for alternative medications like herbs, vitamins and dietary supplements to support their health following cancer treatment. But how do you know if a product is safe and will have the results you expect? Be sure to research any over-the-counter remedies. It’s especially important for cancer survivors to know how a product might interact with cancer medications.
Use this guide to learn more about dietary supplements and how they may impact your body. If you have specific questions, please reach out to your care team.