Cancer Doesn’t Discriminate
Paula Harrelson, RN
Cancer can affect anyone – the young and the old. There is no age limit on developing cancer. Studies show that more than 70,000 young adults ages 20 to 39 are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States, and about 9,000 young adults die from cancer. During this time, young adults are typically completing huge milestones in their careers and families. But a cancer diagnosis can often interfere with these important milestones in their lives.
While completing cancer treatment is a victory, some young people finish treatment feeling defeated. They have a hard time adjusting to life after cancer. Survivors may experience anxiety or depression, which can be especially difficult for young adults. They may be dealing with concerns of the cancer returning or financial stress of paying for treatment. Having support from family, friends and medical professionals can help a young adult overcome these challenges.
Some survivors may also experience physical changes after treatment. These side effects are called late effects and may occur months or years after treatment. Studies show that many young adults are unaware of the late effects of treatment. It’s important for young adults to have a follow-up care plan with their physician to address physical and psychological needs after treatment.
Late effects of cancer treatment include:
- Increased risk of developing another cancer
- Heart or lung problems
- Hearing or vision problems
- Problems with other organs
- Pain or swelling
- Hormone deficiencies
Another concern following cancer treatment in young adults is family planning and fertility. Fertility can impact both male and female patients. It’s important for them to talk to a physician about how cancer treatment can affect their fertility. Before treatment, it’s recommended for them to meet with a fertility specialist to discuss fertility preservation, if planning to have a family.
Cancer Survivorship Program
It’s important to prepare for life after cancer treatment. With the Cancer Survivorship Program at Touro, each patient’s health and wellbeing are the main focus when moving forward into the survivor stage of their cancer journey.
In this phase of care, the focus shifts from treating cancer to helping patients recover from treatment and become a healthy, informed survivor. Just as every person’s cancer experience is unique, adjusting to life after treatment is an individual challenge that involves mind, body and spirit.
Our program helps patients adjust to living beyond cancer by providing information, support and encouragement. Patients get the chance to meet one-on-one with Touro’s Survivorship Coordinator to:
- Develop a treatment summary and personal care plan
- Assess your specific needs
- Make referrals for follow-up care
Patients will also have access to a variety of services based on their needs:
- Psychology, social work and spiritual counseling
- Customized physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy with Touro’s STAR Program
- Smoking cessation
- Palliative care and pain management
- Free support group meeting
Touro celebrates National Cancer Survivors Day! > Click here to view a special video collection featuring some of our very own inspirational survivors.
To learn more about the Cancer Survivorship Program at Touro or to schedule an appointment, please contact Paula Harrelson, RN at 504-897-8970.
Paula Harrelson, RN has over 30 years of nursing experience. After experiencing a diagnosis of breast cancer herself in 2003, Paula was inspired to dedicate the remainder of her nursing career to working with others diagnosed with cancer. As Touro’s Survivorship Coordinator, Paula is passionate about helping people address their needs and regain and sense of wellness to move forward with living.