Promoting Self-Management for Cancer Survivors

AONN+ Blog published on December 5, 2017
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
Editor-in-Chief, JONS; Co-Founder, AONN+; University Distinguished Service Professor of Breast Cancer, Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Co-Developer, Work Stride-Managing Cancer at Work, Johns Hopkins Healthcare Solutions

While patients with cancer are actively receiving treatment, their navigators are in frequent contact with them, making sure they have and keep their appointments; remain on track for tests, scans, and other consultations; and the list goes on. When treatment is completed, patients receive a treatment summary and survivorship care plan, and then what? These individuals must be strongly encouraged at that point to engage in self-management. Why? Because you, their navigator, will not be calling them or seeing them frequently anymore. And if they expect their primary care physician or other community provider to contact them with reminders of the need to schedule follow-up appointments, screening tests, and any other necessary visits with healthcare providers, they need to know that simply isn’t going to happen. Not only is the survivor losing contact with you, they are also at a crossroads that can feel quite scary. Do not fall into the enabling trap of telling the survivor she can contact you “anytime”—because if you do, she will. Constantly. And you will lack time for your newly diagnosed patients, who are the ones who need you most.

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