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Medical Side Effects Information

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Chemo Brain

by Gabriela Höhn, PhD

Sound familiar?
I’m just not myself since I started treatment. I’m fuzzy, not as sharp, and everything seems to take me longer. I forget where I put things, and can’t remember peo­ple’s names or conversations I just had with them. I try to hide it, but family and friends are starting to notice – even my coworkers. Am I losing my mind?

No, but you may be experiencing chemo brain.

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Take Control of Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

by Cindy Tofthagen, PhD, ARNP, AOCNP, FAANP, FAAN

Peripheral neuropathy is a common, but often unanticipated, side effect of chemotherapy. Symptoms in­clude numbness and tingling that begin in the fingertips or toes and that may move upward into the hands and feet, and then the arms and legs as the neu­ropathy worsens. Peripheral neuropathy can also affect your balance and fine motor skills, making it difficult to carry out certain daily activities like buttoning a shirt, hitting the right keys on your computer or cellphone, or driving a car.

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How Are You, Really?

by Jolyn Taylor, MD, MPH, and Lois Ramondetta, MD

How are you? This is often the first thing a doctor says when you arrive for an appointment. While it’s a simple question, it’s one that can be difficult to answer. After all, most people battling cancer are likely experiencing a multi­tude of symptoms and side effects, with some more troubling than others. Should you report all of your symptoms? Only some of them? Which ones?

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Chemo Brain

by Arash Asher, MD

Until recently, the cognitive changes brought on by cancer treatment – often called chemo brain or chemo fog – were brushed under the rug. Many physicians believed they were simply a result of anxiety or dis­tress and, therefore, not a real medical concern. We are now learning, however, that up to 75 percent of people treated for cancer do experience some form of cognitive symptoms due to the disease and its treatment.

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Men, Cancer, and Sexual Health

by Joseph B. Narus, DNP, GNP-BC, ANP

Incredible advances in cancer care are now allowing men to recover healthy and active lives after treat­ment. Still, cancer treatments can affect a man’s sexual function. This is espe­cially true for prostate, colorectal, and bladder cancers, three of the most com­mon cancers in men. The side effects of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy for these and other types of cancer can interfere with your ability to achieve and maintain an erection, lessen your desire for sex, and affect your ability to have children.

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Depression

by Katherine Easton, LCSW, OSW-C

When people think about the side effects of cancer treat­ment, physical effects like fatigue, hair loss, and nausea and vomiting are often what come to mind. However, cancer survivors are at risk of developing another rarely discussed, and far less visible, side-effect – depression. This unwelcome, and often unexpected, guest can even affect people who may normally have healthy coping skills.

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What Cancer Survivors Need to Know about Lymphedema

Lymphedema is the build-up of fluid in soft body tissues. The condition occurs when lymph is not able to flow through the body the way that it should. When part of the lymph system is damaged or blocked, fluid cannot drain from nearby body tissues. Fluid builds up in the tissues and causes swelling. In cancer survivors, lymphedema is caused when the lymph system is damaged or blocked by infection, injury, cancer, re­moval of lymph nodes, radiation to the affected area, or scar tissue from radia­tion therapy or surgery.

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Are You at Risk for Falls?

by Cassandra Vonnes, MS, ARNP, GNP-BC

It can happen in a blink of an eye – an accident, a misstep, light-­headedness when standing too quickly. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional falls are the leading cause of injury and death in Americans over the age of 65. Typically, fall risks are highest for the elderly. However, peo­ple with cancer, regardless of age, are also at high risk for falls because of the disease and its complicated treatments.

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