Tara Sanft, MD, is a Yale Medicine medical oncologist and director of the Survivorship Program at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital. She enjoys helping people with the issues they face after cancer treatment and creating survivorship care plans for them—individualized “road maps” for how to go about living daily life after cancer.
“Once the patient is done with treatment and on surveillance,” Dr. Sanft says, “they're considered in the ‘survivorship phase’ of their treatment. And that's the phase where they get lost in transition and the patient may think, ‘I'm falling off the cliff, I finished my treatment, my next appointment is in a year… now what?’”
To help, Dr. Sanft and her team, which includes a social worker, physical therapist and nutritionist, address common problems people may be experiencing, including fear of recurrence and sexual intimacy issues. They also make specific diet, exercise and follow-up care recommendations to help survivors feel more in control of their lives.
“For many patients, this survivorship period is marked with fear,” she says. “It's kind of adjusting to a ‘new normal’—a new sense of your physical, emotional and spiritual self after cancer.”