The Cancer Council Victoria is today launching a new publication Life after Cancer: A Guide for Cancer Survivors, the first booklet of its kind in Australia.
The booklet has been developed in conjunction with the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, who today are also launching a DVD Just take it Day to Day: A Survivors Guide to Life After Cancer.
With cancer survival rates on the rise, this is a critical resource for people living with cancer. It covers topics including returning to a ‘normal' life, follow-up care and fear of your cancer coming back.
Ms Doreen Akkerman, Director of Cancer Information and Support Services at The Cancer Council Victoria, recognised a need for such a resource through feedback from the community.
"There were a number of people contacting us who were dealing with their life after cancer. Your life is never the same after your cancer diagnosis. It can be described as an evolution in that you are continually progressing and changing.
"Cancer survivors face many difficulties after treatment including physical changes, ongoing fatigue, employment and relationships issues, and emotional effects such as fear and anxiety.
"Certain cancers such as breast and prostate have a much higher survival rate. As a result, people are living longer after their cancer treatment and, once active treatment has ceased, they feel at a loss. They never return to their life as it was before their cancer diagnosis," said Ms Akkerman.
Cancer Survivor, Bill Simpson has first-hand experience regarding the trauma a cancer survivor faces after treatment.
"People assume that once your treatment is finished, you are cured, just get on with life. In fact, my surgeon used those exact words, ‘you're cured, go and enjoy the rest of your life.'
"The 6 months after treatment is very traumatic in many ways. I was left with residual nerve damage in my left thigh and my libido was reduced. I remember well that magic night many months afterwards when things started to ‘work again'.
"This was important to me as a man as it indicated that my body was returning to a more normal state.
"Many people are unable to talk to you about your experiences, they don't want to be reminded of their fragility. Your partner also has had to face the possible loss of a loved one, and now just wants to get on with life without any more traumas.
"The loneliness of cancer is something that non-suffers can never understand," said Mr Simpson.
Ms Akkerman urges all cancer survivors, carers, family members and health professionals to order their free copy of this booklet.
The content of Peter MacCallum's DVD, Just take it Day to Day: A Survivors Guide to Life After Cancer, is based on the reported needs of Australian cancer survivors. It includes information from health professionals, who comment on emotional and physical changes after cancer treatment.
"Feedback from cancer survivors has told us how incredibly valuable the booklet and DVD are for understanding cancer survivor's needs. People can order their free copy of the booklet and DVD by calling the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20," said Ms Akkerman.
The booklet and DVD are ideal for people who have finished their cancer treatment and their carers, family and friends.
What: Launch of new resources for Cancer Survivors
When: Wednesday 23 May, 10.30am
Where: Peter Mac Education Theatre, Level 3, St Andrews Place, East Melbourne