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Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond

Wellness Management for the Childhood Cancer or Adolescent Cancer Survivors

As a survivor of childhood cancer or adolescent cancer, you have special health care needs that are different from the general population.  You will require life-long follow-up from a team that specializes in the care of childhood cancer survivors.  It is important that you are knowledgeable about the type of cancer or cancers for which you were treated, as well as the treatment you received (radiation, surgery, and/or chemotherapy agents).  Furthermore, good preventative health practices are vital in maintaining your current health.  If you should have long-term side effects from childhood cancer and treatment, early identification of these late effects may lead to better outcomes. 

Life-long follow-up
Yesterday's childhood cancer patients are now growing into today's young adult survivors.  It is important to have close medical follow-up to detect any problems that could be a consequence of having had cancer or its treatment.  This will certainly benefit your health and provide information for future developments in the treatment of childhood cancers.  This information could potentially prevent these late effects in children currently receiving therapy.

Knowledge is power!
Your primary healthcare providers, as well as any other healthcare providers you will require in the future, need to be aware of your medical history.  Because you were treated in your childhood or adolescence for cancer, you may not be aware of the specifics of your treatment.  A comprehensive written history of your treatment is important for you to obtain from the center that treated your cancer.  The written summary of your history should include:

  • Your specific type of cancer, with type, stage or prognostic group, and location of the cancer
  • All surgical procedures performed
  • The names of all chemotherapy drugs used to combat childhood cancer and the total doses you received
  • Areas of your body that received radiation and how much radiation each area received
  • Latest test results done to monitor for side effects
  • Recommendations for future medical follow-up and schedule of tests and procedures

This written summary should be shared with each of your healthcare providers and updated periodically with most recent test results.  Your summary will be helpful to your doctors as well as you, as it will alert you to your schedule for recommended follow-up.

Healthy Living
Make the decision to live as healthy as you possibly can.  As a survivor of cancer, you know you are vulnerable to the disease.  If you are one of the survivors of childhood cancer, why would you put yourself at risk for other cancers or diseases as an adult if you could prevent it?

  • Do not smoke or chew tobacco.  Don't start.  If you are a smoker or chew tobacco, your healthcare provider can help you quit!  Just ask! 
  • Do not drink illegally as a minor and drink responsibly when you are an adult, if at all. And never, NEVER drink and drive or ride in a car with someone who is drinking or using drugs.
  • Make safe dating decisions. Don't allow yourself to be in a situation that could get out of your control. If physically intimate, be sure to protect yourself from infection.
  • Make a choice to be physically active and avoid excessive TV watching, computer use, or video games.  Even walking is great for your body.
  • Avoid fad diets and junk foods.  Eat a well-balanced diet including lots of fruits and vegetables.  We know that certain nutrients and fiber in many fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains help to control weight in a healthy way, keep blood fats balanced, and prevent cancer or cancer recurrence.
  • Take good care of your teeth and gums by brushing and flossing at least twice a day.  Have preventive dental care visits twice a year.
  • Make sure your immunizations (vaccinations) are up-to-date.  They will protect you from some life-threatening diseases. 
  • Make safety your priority!  Always wear your seatbelt in a car, and wear helmets when biking, skating, rollerblading, and horseback riding.
  • Maintain your mental health by focusing on positive relationships with friends and family.  Set education and career goals and work towards these.  Find healthy ways to deal with stress.  And by all means, don't hesitate to see a counselor if sadness, depression, or anxiety interfere with your life.  
  • Do not join a gang or carry a weapon and avoid those who do.  Steer clear of drugs- don't use or sell them!  Avoid violent people and violent situations at all times.

Information provided by the High Five Clinic at The Children's Hospital of the Cleveland Clinic.

Note:  We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice.

 

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