Realistically Ever After: The Third Story of Cancer Survivorship

November 09, 2018

Realistically Ever After: The Third Story of Cancer Survivorship

Thirty years after being diagnosed with cancer, Dr. Laura Ellingson joins the podcast to share her survivorship story. “It’s complicated…I’m not going to tell you the victorious narrative. I’m going to tell you what really happened,” she informs listeners. Laura comments on the two common endings to cancer stories, triumph or tragedy; there is rarely an alternative ending. For those who survive cancer, however, there is frequently a third story where the triumphant win over cancer is only the beginning. After seventeen surgeries and four life-threatening staph infections, Laura made the decision to have a leg amputation in 2008 and adds, “I thought, ‘now we’re finally done, the pain is done, the suffering is done, all the surgeries are done’…it is absolutely not done!” As a health communication scholar, Laura suggests we continue to offer hope for surviving cancer and permission to stop cancer treatment along with informed consent that it is likely to have life-long consequences; “to deny the reality…is not ethical.” She mentions the importance of a survivorship care plan and the need to be realistic about life after cancer. 

Resources:

NCI Office of Survivorship: https://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/facing-forward

Livestrong: https://www.livestrong.org/we-can-help/healthy-living-after-treatment/late-effects-of-cancer-treatment

Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/in-depth/cancer-survivor/art-20045524

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