I have a really good friend whose father is a Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma survivor. He was diagnosed in January of 2007, underwent six rounds of chemotherapy, and fortunately, it did the trick. His cancer is gone, and this summer he will celebrate his 80th birthday.
My friend often talks about her Dad with me, and shares some of the struggles he’s had since his diagnosis. What always strikes me the most from our conversations is how many of this man’s current health issues and problems are not a result of the cancer itself, but rather the chemotherapy medications he received. Although it’s almost the two-year anniversary of the completion of his treatment, my friend says he continues to suffer from gastrointestinal issues, emotional stress, and other symptoms that he and many specialists all attribute to the chemotherapies.
Of course, he, my friend, and I’m sure everyone else who knows him is grateful that chemotherapy exists, and that it worked. It beats the alternative, right? But as he has shared with my friend on several occasions, it seems like once the cancer treatment ended, so did his care from the cancer center where he received his treatments. Yes, he continues to go there regularly for check-ups and he has I believe twice-yearly PET scans and things to make sure the cancer has not come back. But in terms of his side effects, he has pretty much been on his own, looking for local experts and physicians who could help him.
This just does not seem right to me. I don’t like it, and neither does my friend, that her almost-80-year-old father is having to do so much on his own to try to fully recover from his treatments. She said that his oncologist has agreed that some, if not all, of the symptoms he has now are leftover from the chemotherapies. But other than a half-hearted suggestion that he get into a cancer group therapy session or two, he has not received any help from the facility that treated him.
This got me to thinking: is my friend’s father’s experience typical, or are there cancer treatment facilities that continue to care for you once the cancer has gone away?