Completing cancer treatment is an occasion to celebrate, and yet, many survivors also experience significant distress upon coming to the end of treatment. Post-treatment survivors can have concerns about returning to work or “normal” life while still coping with side-effects and fatigue. Some people are surprised to feel especially vulnerable or emotionally fragile (even if they “powered-through” treatment). Others find themselves haunted by fears of recurrence that may cause them to have a difficult time moving forward from cancer.
If you notice similar feelings yourself after finishing treatment, please know that you are not alone with these experiences. In fact, post-treatment emotional distress can impact close to half of all cancer survivors, even for those who are “cured” of their cancer. If you find that you are struggling, fortunately there are things that can help, and I encourage you to start by talking to the social worker at your site to learn more about survivorship resources, support, and programs available in your clinic and community.
One specific program that we are now offering to post-treatment survivors who are distressed is a 7-week skills-based group called “Valued Living for Survivors”. Over the past few years, Rocky Mountain Cancers Centers, in collaboration with the University of Colorado at Boulder, has been piloting the “Valued Living” program to great success in Boulder. Now, with funding from the American Cancer Society, we are expanding our outreach to more sites in RMCC and are doing a four year study comparing the impact of participating in “Valued Living for Survivors”, to usual care, for post-treatment survivors who are distressed.
If you are now clear of cancer, and have completed treatment within the past two years, but are still experiencing anxiety or distress related to cancer survivorship, you may be eligible to participate in the “Valued Living for Survivors” study, and you can earn up to $275 for completing the study measures. The groups are being run at RMCC- Boulder, Longmont, Aurora, and Denver-Rose, but survivors do not have to have had treatment at RMCC to be eligible to participate. If you would like to learn more about this opportunity please contact Jill Mitchell, PhD, LCSW, OSW-C @ 303-385-2003.