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Living Well After Cancer

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Mike AlpertMike Alpert

Mike Alpert: I thought that it would be very appropriate to end this year with an article written by Jessica DeHart Ph.D., who is doing the medical research for City of Hope and Claremont Graduate University on our Living Well After Cancer program. In October of last year, I was able to do a presentation in Chicago with Jessica, and the medical data she presented was really astounding. Here it is in her own words.

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There are currently 17 million people in the United States asking, "Now What?" By 2029, this number will rise to 22 million, and by 2040, the number will reach 26 million. If you are reading this article, you hold the answer to their question.

Jessica Dehart, Ph.D.Jessica Dehart, Ph.D.

Cancer treatment is becoming more effective, which is increasing the number of cancer survivors exponentially each year. It is truly something to celebrate. However, when the celebratory bells fall silent and the confetti is swept up, cancer survivors are faced with their "new normal."

Many women and men experience dramatic physical, emotional and psychological symptoms during cancer treatment. Sometimes, these symptoms disappear soon after treatment is finished. Other times, more often than we previously thought, "they become long-term." The collateral damage of successful cancer treatment is burdensome, and the rally cry against the acceptance of a "New Normal" is growing louder. It is time to help the cancer community to do more than survive. It is time to help them thrive!

Common forms of collateral damage of cancer treatment are pain, neuropathy (debilitating numbness with nerve pain in limbs), fatigue, weight gain, depression, anxiety, social isolation, decreased self-efficacy and cognitive concerns (sometimes referred to as "chemo brain"). What is less known is that, after cancer treatment, a large proportion of patients also experience metabolic issues, including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels that increase a person's risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even, cancer recurrence.

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