Survivorship begins immediately after the diagnosis of a childhood germ cell tumor. The patients under treatment and whose disease conditions are cured after the treatment are referred to as the cancer survivors. Survival is considered one of the most challenging aspects of childhood germ cell tumors, as every patient has unique conditions as per the severity of the disease. The survivors have experience emotions of concern, relief, remorse, and terror during their cancer journey. Childhood germ cell tumor survivors and their caretakers can feel stressed once the frequent visits to the hospital and meetings with the health care team end. In addition to this, they will begin to experience a lack of security or support, as the relationship built with the health care team provides them with a sense of support, comfort, and protection.
Patients and their families may experience powerful emotions after the treatment, including excitement, concern, relief, guilt, and dread. While, coping with such emotional distress has been known to be the primary goal of survivorship, requesting and accepting help from others, and feeling at ease with the course of action that the family takes are some of the most effective coping strategies.
Children with germ cell tumor can improve the quality of life through proper diet and by following other instructions given to them by the healthcare professional. The treatment survivorship serves as a solid motivation to initiate healthy changes in lifestyle and maintain good health and live a cancer-free life.
Survivorship for Childhood Germ Cell Tumor
Survivorship can have different meanings for different people. But commonly, it refers to;
- Having no signs of cancer post-treatment
- Cancer survivorship initiates from the moment of diagnosis and continues during treatment and throughout a person’s life.
Survivorship is the most complicated part of cancer as it is different for each person. While, some people undergo cancer treatment for a long time to cure and prevent a recurrence, whereas some may treat it as any other disease.
Survivors usually experience a mixture of strong feelings, joy, guilt, concern, and fear. Some people start to appreciate life after a cancer diagnosis and accept themselves, while others become uncertain about their health and vitality. In addition to this, the younger generation might find it difficult to cope with the after-effects of the treatment.
Support groups are present for people diagnosed with germ cell tumor 1. This provides you with an opportunity to talk with people who have had similar experiences.
Relationships formed with the cancer care team not only impart a sense of security during treatment, but also makes the patients miss this source of support. This can be especially true when new worries and challenges surface over time, such as late treatment effects, emotional challenges including fear of recurrence, sexual health and fertility concerns, and financial and workplace issues. Every survivor has individual problems and challenges. Besides this, an excellent first step is recognizing your fears and talking about them with any challenge.
Effective coping requires the following:
- Thinking through solutions
- Understanding the challenge you are facing
- Feeling comfortable with the action you choose
- Asking for the support of others
People with germ cell tumor can improve the quality of their future by following instructions for good health into and through adulthood 2, such as
- Balanced diet
- Proper supplements
- Managing stress
- Eating well
Regular physical activity can help reconstruct your strength and energy level. The health care team can provide an appropriate exercise plan based upon your needs, physical abilities, and fitness level 3.
- 1.Poynter JN, Amatruda JF, Ross JA. Trends in incidence and survival of pediatric and adolescent patients with germ cell tumors in the United States, 1975 to 2006. Cancer. Published online July 1, 2010:4882-4891. doi:10.1002/cncr.25454
- 2.Mortazavi N, Mahzooni P, Taheri D, Jalilian M, Novin K. Germ Cell Tumor’s Survival Rate in Young Patients. Iran J Cancer Preven. Published online August 24, 2015. doi:10.17795/ijcp.3440
- 3.Kaatsch P, Häfner C, Calaminus G, Blettner M, Tulla M. Pediatric Germ Cell Tumors From 1987 to 2011: Incidence Rates, Time Trends, and Survival. Pediatrics. Published online January 1, 2015:e136-e143. doi:10.1542/peds.2014-1989