Survivorship begins immediately after the diagnosis of a gastrointestinal stromal 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 gastrointestinal stromal tumors, as every patient has unique conditions as per the severity of the disease. The survivors experience various emotions such as of concern, relief, remorse, and terror during their cancer journey. The gastrointestinal stromal tumor survivors and their caretakers can feel stressed once the frequent visits to the hospital and meetings with the health care team end. Moreover, they will begin to experience a lack of security or support, as the relationship built with the health care team had previously provided them with a sense of support, comfort, and protection.
Patients and their families can furthermore experience powerful emotions after the treatment, including excitement, concern, relief, guilt, and dread. Coping with such emotional distress is particularly known to be the primary goal of survivorship. Recognizing the difficulties that your family is experiencing, solution-oriented thinking, requesting and accepting help from others, and feeling at ease with the course of action that the family takes are some of the most common coping effective necessitates.
Gastrointestinal stromal tumor survivors can improve the quality of life and future by following instructions given by the medical team for better health through adulthood. In addition to this, the treatment survivorship serves as a solid motivation to initiate healthy changes in lifestyle and maintain good health, and to live a cancer-free life.
Survivorship for Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor
Survivorship can have different meanings for different people. But commonly, it refers to;
- Having no signs of cancer post-treatment
- Cancer survivorship begins from the moment of diagnosis and continues during the treatment and throughout a life of the survivor.
Survivorship is the most complicated part of cancer as it is different for each person. While some people go through cancer treatment for a long time to cure and prevent a recurrence, some treat cancer as any other chronic 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 1.
Support groups are present for people diagnosed with gastrointestinal stromal tumour. This provides you with an opportunity to talk with people who have had similar first-hand experiences 2.
Relationships formed with the cancer care team impart a sense of security during treatment, and people tend to 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, and financial and workplace issues. Besides it, every survivor has individual problems and challenges. An excellent first step is recognizing your fears and communicating that with your loved ones.
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 gastrointestinal stromal tumour can improve the quality of their future by following instructions for good health into and through adulthood, such as
- Limiting alcohol
- Not smoking
- 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.Hompland I, Bruland ØS, Hølmebakk T, et al. Prediction of long-term survival in patients with metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumor: analysis of a large, single-institution cohort. Acta Oncologica. Published online May 30, 2017:1317-1323. doi:10.1080/0284186x.2017.1330555
- 2.Petrelli F, Tomasello G, Barni S, et al. Risk of second primary tumors in GIST survivors: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Surgical Oncology. Published online June 2019:64-70. doi:10.1016/j.suronc.2019.03.001
- 3.Shen C, Wang C, He T, et al. Long-term survival among patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors diagnosed after another malignancy: a SEER population-based study. World J Surg Onc. Published online May 6, 2020. doi:10.1186/s12957-020-01868-x