Cancer Transitions®a six-week program of the Cancer Support Community and LIVESTRONG, is designed to help cancer survivors make the transition from active treatment to
post-treatment care.

The six-week Cancer Transitions program provides cancer survivors with the information, skills and tools to address exercise, nutrition, emotional health, quality of life and medical management in the transitional time after treatment ends.   

 

Lead by Sherri Watterson, PTA, CLT

Sherri is a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant and has been practicing since 1998. Sherri  has completed training in Chapel Hill for the Cancer Transitions Program enabling her to now offer this program to our community. She graduated from University of Indianapolis, IN in 1997 with an Associates degree in the Physical Therapist Assistant program. She received her Lymphedema certification from the Academy of Lymphatic Studies in 2005.  She has worked in multiple settings including outpatient orthopedics and sports medicine, neurological and ergonomics. Sherri is the Clinical Education Coordinator and assists with the placement of Physical Therapy and Physical Therapy Assistant students at Harris Regional Hospital. She is an APTA Credentialed Clinical Instructor. Sherri works with our lymphedema population and assists with teaching patients how to successfully manage this condition.  

  

What does the program include?

Exercise

  • Regular exercise reduces some long-term side effects of cancer treatment and increases overall physical and emotional well being for cancer survivors.

  • Exercise has been shown to help cancer survivors with pain, strength and endurance, sexual functioning, sleep, thinking and learning, and psychological distress such as fear, anxiety and sadness.

  • It is important for survivors to learn how to tailor physical activity to match their physical ability after treatment.  Even a small amount of physical activity is beneficial to cancer survivors.


Nutrition

  • Eating a healthy diet helps cancer survivors regain strength, rebuild tissue and feel well.

  • Nutrition for cancer survivors should focus on a plant-based diet, including more than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.  Other important nutrition tips for survivors include eating whole grains and low-fat dairy products, and steering away from saturated and trans fats, red meat, salt, sugar, alcohol, pickled and fried foods.

  • Eating nutrient-rich foods may boost the odds of cancer survivors staying healthy. These foods include berries, Brazil nuts, citrus fruits, colorful vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, fish, flaxseed, legumes, tea, tomatoes, and yogurt.


Emotional Health and Well-Being

  • Distress is the most under-reported and common side effect of cancer. While initial distress in coping with diagnosis and treatment is expected, continuing distress may interfere with long-term health.

  • Cancer Transitions provides tools such as learning what feelings survivors may experience after treatment, recognizing when they need support, and knowing where to get that support.

  • In the emotional health segment of the program, survivors learn mind-body activities and techniques to learn to express feelings, reduce and lower stress, and increase positive emotions, which can enhance their quality of life.


Quality of Life

  • As cancer patients go through treatment, they are often overwhelmed by the demands of treatment and put many other things on hold.  The end of treatment may trigger different worries—“What’s next?” “What’s normal?” “How do I live as a cancer survivor?”

  • Relationships with family, intimate partners, friends and co-workers may change following cancer treatment—making it even more challenging for survivors to cope.

  • Research has shown that support groups may help reduce significant stress factors: loneliness, feeling that you have lost control, and a loss of hope. 

  • Cancer survivors may find themselves searching for meaning and inspiration in their cancer experience.

  • Many cancer survivors remain optimistic, even when facing the challenges of their disease.  One perspective for cancer survivors may be to view cancer as a second chance—an opportunity to make changes.

Medical Management

  • One of the most important actions a cancer survivor can take is to communicate effectively with their health care team.

  • Cancer survivors can improve communication with their health care team by keeping a health journal and preparing for physician visits by writing down any questions and concerns.

  • One hidden medical issue for cancer survivors is pain--which often isn’t reported, recognized or treated well. 

  • After cancer treatment, survivors may have heightened health risks. These health risks can be grouped into two categories: short-and medium-term risks, and long-term risks.
    • The most common cancer health short-term effect is cancer-related fatigue. Other short and medium term risks include fatigue, memory and concentration changes, lymphedema, pain, and nerve damage.

  • Long-term health risks for cancer survivors depend on the type and stage of cancer, treatment, effectiveness of the treatment, and overall health after treatment.

  • Different cancer treatments may be linked with other health risks to the heart, lungs, liver, eyes, joints, bones, mouth and teeth, and reproductive functions. Treatment for cancer may also raise the risk of secondary cancers.

  • It is important that cancer survivors continue to manage any other health conditions they had before and during cancer treatment, such as diabetes or heart disease, in the time after treatment as well.