Long-term Survivorship: Beyond Five Years
Long-term survivorship means you finished treatment five or more years ago. For many young women, this is a milestone worth celebrating, but it can also bring unique challenges.
Your Follow-Up Care
Your doctor visits have likely scaled back in the last few years, which can feel freeing, but also leave you wondering who will keep track of how you’re doing. If you haven’t already, talk to your oncologist about who you should see for follow-up cancer care and routine medical care.
Being diagnosed as a young woman means you hopefully still have many healthy years ahead of you. It also means there are parts of your medical history that are unique to being a young breast cancer survivor.
- Communicate with your doctors. Always tell new doctors about your breast cancer history, including the type of cancer and treatment you had.
- If you have specific concerns, ask for a referral to speak with a relevant specialist.
- Some insurance plans limit coverage of follow-up care. Check what your plan covers while being sure to find doctors who make you feel comfortable and have comprehensive knowledge of breast cancer.
- Make sure you have all available information about your personal breast cancer risk factors for recurrence. It’s never too late to ask your doctor these questions.
All young women affected by breast cancer want to reduce the chances of their cancer coming back. Luckily, you have tools to help keep yourself healthy.
Develop or update your survivorship care plan, such as those provided in our Post-Treatment Navigator. This plan will help you stay on top of your check-ups and follow-up care.
Research shows that making healthy choices can help reduce your risk of cancer recurrence and prevent other health issues:
- Learn more about what foods can help you manage weight and stay healthy.
- Find an exercise routine that works for you and explore the benefits of physical activity.
- Find how to reduce stress in your daily life where possible.
Managing Long-Term Effects
Just because you are finished with treatment doesn’t mean you automatically feel back to normal. There are some symptoms that may last another year and others that will be around forever.
We are here to help you assess some of the physical and mental effects that linger and offer tips to combat them:
- Neuropathy and pain: Breast cancer treatments can be effective in killing cancer cells, but may also leave you with long-term pain or discomfort. Work with your doctors to find the best solution for you.
- Early menopause: Either because of treatment or surgery, your body may have been forced into early menopause.
- Infertility: You may never have thought you’d deal with fertility issues at a young age, but perhaps your breast cancer treatment changed that. The good news is there are options no matter what your current circumstances.
- Overall health: Integrating wellness activities into your everyday life can help your body promote disease prevention, as well as bone and heart health.
- Quality of life: You deserve a high quality of life after breast cancer. Alleviating common side effects like lymphedema and fatigue can help you achieve that.
Financial, Legal and Career Support
Breast cancer treatment and the impact it’s had on your life can affect your finances and career for a long time. There are some great resources to help you get back on track and learn more about your legal rights as a breast cancer survivor.
Even if you put cancer behind you many years ago, fear and anxieties can return. That’s completely normal—but often difficult to deal with. We can help you through these times by:
- Providing a place to connect with other long-term survivors in one of our Private Facebook Groups.
- Matching you with another long-term survivor one-on-one through our Peer Match program.
- Offering inspiration and hope in our Survivor Stories
You can find support through your personal relationships, too. Download our Long-Term Navigator to read more about important topics like:
- Navigating changes with friends and family
- Communicating with your spouse or partner about what you both have gone through
- Talking to your children about your breast cancer history
- Dating after a breast cancer diagnosis
Many young survivors choose to give back to other young women after they’re done with treatment. Find ways you can help in your community or across the U.S.
- Speak Up: Put your passion to work through advocacy.
- Research: Learn about medical advances—and how you can help—in our research section.
- Volunteer: Our volunteer program has something for everyone. Find the volunteer opportunity that’s right for you.
Download Our Long-Term Navigator
Download our Long-Term Navigator for more information and resources design just for long-term survivors.
Connect with Others
Find women who know what it’s like to face breast cancer at a young age. The YSC community makes it easy to find and connect with other young survivors and co-survivors.