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CS Care Plan graphic smallTo take inspired action requires awareness…and both are part of the path to empowerment.  The entire equation is:

(Awareness + Education) + Inspired Action = Empowerment

For survivors to have access to a cancer survivorship care plan, you must know:

  • how they can help you navigate survivorship
  • the key components
  • how to ask for one if you don’t have it yet
  • ways to get support and accountability to follow through on the guidelines it provides

My mission is to exponentially increase survivors’ awareness of the value of survivorship care plans, what they include and how to self-advocate for one in a way that enrolls, not offends, your medical team.

Thriving requires identifying and then reaching self-defined levels of quality of life in all major areas.   A cancer survivorship care plan that integrates this holistic approach becomes a blueprint for thriving when it:

  1. is created for and with the survivor – the ideal vision is that the medical team provides via the EH record (electronic health record) the recommendations regarding healthy lifestyle behaviors such as physical activity, stress reduction, proper nutrition and the survivor then engages in implementing those changes while also addressing other challenges or impacts in a framework that becomes, essentially, a plan for living.
  2. sets specific, measurable goals – less tangible ideas don’t typically inspire action.  A plan that truly engages survivors will provide a way to set measurable goals that are specific and allow for the tracking of those goals.
  3. outlines actionable steps to achieve those goals – successful change comes most easily when a plan is broken down into manageable steps.
  4. provides the resources to generate sustainable changes and work through any blocks or challenges – this is where coaching can really make a difference.  Having the support of a coaching environment opens up the chance to explore obstacles or barriers to following through on plans and goals.  Often our greatest stumbling block can be our thoughts.  Learning to navigate through the I can’ts and other limiting beliefs or come up with strategies to overcome other obstacles is key to successful change implementation.
  5. includes support and accountability to ensure follow through – when we are first coming at something in a different way, it can help to have outside accountability.  Eventually, we develop the muscle and can, for the most part, hold ourselves accountable.  But, at first, success increases when there is a support system outside of ourselves.

Empowered survivorship begins with getting educated about what you want, desire and deserve your care plan for life to look like and what resources you need to follow through on it.  To get you started, I’ve put together some important background information and links to resources…because knowledge is power and the doorway to choice and action!

In 2005, the Institute of Medicine released From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition .  This nearly 200 page report, the third installment of a series of studies focusing on cancer survivorship care planning, evaluated the current state of survivorship care and generated one of the first set of recommended guidelines including the creation of a care plan for each survivor.

The NCI Cancer Bulletin in June 2012, wrote an update evaluating the progress of survivorship care relative to standards recommended by the Institute of Medicine.  According to the article, many survivors do not receive care plans even though there is an increasing call and effort to make them a standard of care for survivors.  Even those plans provided reportedly often fail to include many of the recommended elements.

Here are some Additional Resources:

Patient-Centered Cancer Treatment Planning: Improving the Quality of Oncology Care

Cancer Survivorship: Today and Tomorrow

ASCO Cancer Treatment Summaries

Prescription for Living

Welcome to the first steps into truly empowered survivorship.  For more information on what a holistic survivorship care plan looks like, you can click here to download my MP3 interview “Cancer Survivorship Care Planning: A Blueprint for Thriving” for free!

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