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Cancer patients still suffer after treatment

Cancer patients still suffer after treatment

Cancer patients can continue to suffer long after treatment is over

By Isabel Teotonio Life Reporter

A few months after being diagnosed with colon cancer and undergoing surgery to remove part of his bowel, Jim Beattie slipped into a “black hole” of depression.

He was living with chronic pain, fatigue and in fear of cancer returning. And, he had stopped buying flower seeds — a worrisome sign for this avid gardener who loved tending the yard of his Leaside home.

“I was feeling hopeless, bereft,” recalls the 69-year-old retired technology consultant. “I felt very, very sorry for myself. I didn’t have any clear vision that there was a future.”

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He’s not alone. The emotional and physical challenges that cancer patients experience after treatment is highlighted in a recent report by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. It includes findings from a first-of-its-kind survey of 13,000 Canadian adults on their experience, within the last three years, of transitioning between oncology care to the broader health care system.

Among those surveyed, 80 per cent reported physical challenges, with increased fatigue and changes in sexual function and fertility as their biggest concerns; 70 per cent struggled emotionally with depression, changes in sexual intimacy and fear of cancer returning; and 40 per cent had practical difficulties, such as returning to school or work, and financial woes like paying health care bills.

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