Dealing with the physical and emotional scars
Kathryn E. Vinson, MS, CCRC
Life After Cancer and Adjusting to Change – When you are going through cancer treatment, often times its hard to think past the present. A doctor recommends a surgery or particular treatment and you go for it. If you are one of the fortunate ones that have kicked cancer square in the booty, congratulations! You’ve done it – you’ve conquered the beast. Now what? Well, depending on the type of cancer that you battled, there may be physical issues to deal with for the rest of your life, not to mention the emotional ones. Today I want to talk a bit about resources and options that are out there for you depending upon the treatments that you went through.
One of the biggest fears for both men and women diagnosed with cancers at fairly young ages is the potential loss of fertility. For women, this is an especially tough one as many treatments have a profound effect on our ova. You see, every egg that we ever produce is made while we are in our mother’s womb, as opposed to a man’s ability to produce new sperm his entire life. So, foods and chemicals, as well as external forces such as radiation, can harm our eggs. Men too can have this fear if they are facing testicular or prostate cancer. Fortunately, there are many resources out there that can help with harvesting and storage of ova and sperm; however, these measures to preserve fertility can be costly. We have a link to the Caporal Assistance Network in both our Pediatric Cancer Help and Young Adult Help pages. These fine folks can help you with that financial burden, helping to take one worry off your list.
With many cancer treatments, come changes to our physical appearance. The changes can take a tremendous toll on our emotions, as how we look can define how we feel about ourselves. As we know, during treatment chemotherapy can take our hair. Check out these listings of Hair Products that can be a help to both men and women.
Cancer treatments can literally take a part of us – from mastectomies to amputations, the effect can be devastating. For ladies that have lost their breasts due to breast cancer, if you take a look at our page for Local Cancer Resources, and click on the area closest to you, we have compiled lists of plastic surgeons that can offer your choices in reconstructive surgery. Breastcancer.org tells us that “The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 requires all group health plans that pay for mastectomy to also cover prostheses and reconstructive procedures. In addition, Medicare covers breast reconstruction, while Medicaid coverage can vary from state to state.” So, hopefully this gives you some comfort in regards to paying for these procedures. If you choose to go with prosthetic devices rather than reconstruction, or want something while waiting for reconstruction, check out our page for Mastectomy Products.
We also have a great listing of companies that produce prosthetics for kids and adults, and in a wide array of skin tones.
This one hits close to home, as I have several family friends that have had prostate cancer. A sad reality for men and their partners in these cases is the potential for urinary incontinence and loss of sexual function. Don’t be embarrassed to discuss these concerns with your physician. I was interested to read that Kegel exercises, much like ladies use to help with urinary stress incontinence after childbirth, can help men after a prostatectomy! This interview with a prostate cancer survivor is honest, straight forward, and enlightening about the options that are available to men today.
Is there a resource that has helped you or a loved one in their post-cancer life? We’d love to hear about it and share it with our community. Please let us know via our Contact Us page so we can include it in our list.
As always, much love, abundant blessings, and many prayers to all of the cancer warriors and their families.