Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cancer Survivorship Has Its Side Effects; 'Living' Is Categorized into 3 Phases: 'With,' 'Through' and 'Beyond'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cancer Survivorship Has Its Side Effects; 'Living' Is Categorized into 3 Phases: 'With,' 'Through' and 'Beyond'

Article excerpt

Byline: Shyam Paryani, MD & Cliff Norton

The first thought that comes to anyone who hears the diagnosis of cancer is death.

But once people get past the shock and fear, most make up their minds that they will survive and join the more than 14 million cancer survivors in America.

Cancer survivorship is often categorized into three phases.

-Living with cancer involves the experience of being diagnosed with cancer and going through all treatments.

-Living through cancer is the period following treatment during which the chance of the cancer recurring may be high. Typically, this period is about 5 to 10 years.

-Living beyond cancer refers to the period after treatment and long-term survivorship during which there is no evidence of disease (NED). More than 80 percent of children and 60 percent of adult cancer patients are expected to survive more than five years and are potentially cured.

The most common diagnoses among survivors include breast, prostate and colorectal cancers.

Advances in cancer treatment are leading to more survivors. This success, however, often results in physical and psychological distress that affect the survivor's quality of life. It is estimated that over half of survivors suffer from late treatment-related side effects, often including physical, psychosocial, cognitive, socioeconomic, sexual, behavioral and legal issues.

Many effects are chronic and severe. In addition, issues relating to lack of health insurance coverage, inadequate support networks, increased unemployment rates and workplace discrimination confront survivors.

One cannot fully understand what a patient goes through unless you or someone close to you is diagnosed with cancer. This hit home a few years ago with the authors of this article, Shyam Paryani and Cliff Norton. They met at Fort Caroline Junior High School in the late '60s. Since Paryani had just immigrated to the United States from India, Norton became both a friend and a translator of language and culture. One of their most passionate topics was the comparison of cricket and baseball, as Norton was an avid baseball player through high school and into college.

In July 2011, Norton and his wife, Trudy, were vacationing in Key West when they received a call from his doctor requesting an urgent appointment.

After cutting short their trip and returning to Jacksonville for the appointment, Norton was told that he had lung cancer. He heard those dreaded words: "You need to get your affairs in order."

As they left the doctor's office, Trudy asked Cliff, "Do you have Shyam's phone number?"

Paryani was now an oncologist in Jacksonville. That call initiated consultations with two other oncologists to outline a plan for treatment. The prognosis was guarded with a diagnosis of adenocarcinoma of the lung, stage IIIB. …

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