Patients battle to find new normal after cancer

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Jakub Skalik is a cancer survivor. In '07, doctors diagnosed him with Hodgkin disease. A physician found a malignant tumor near Skalik's collarbone. Surgeons removed it, quickly. Treatment followed.

Skalik was weaving baskets with his daughter in his class, but he said it amounts to more than just making something out of wicker.(Forrest Saunders/KCRG)

"Six months of chemotherapy," said Skalik. "About 40 days of radiotherapy."

During that time, Skalik went about his regular life but relied on his friends and family for support, which is often the case. Skalik beat cancer and now goes in for checkups annually. It all sounds like a happy ending-- but surviving cancer can, at times, not be as easy as it seems.

"Patients often find during the period of treatment there are more support services, supportive people around them to help them and their families," said Nancy Yeisley, an oncology social worker. "In those years following treatment into survivorship, there is not always as many support services available."

Following treatment, the National Cancer Institute says patients can experience depression, anxiety, and a general feeling of loneliness.

That's why, like many health providers, St. Luke's partnered with the Nassif Community Cancer Center to offer programs specially tailored to survivors. After cancer, things like an art class can remind people their support system is still there.

"Bringing together cancer survivors and their family becomes even more crucial because those opportunities are more few and far between," said Yeisley.

Skalik was weaving baskets with his daughter in his class, but he said it amounts to more than just making something out of wicker. It brings him closer to his kid and calms his mind.

"My doctor always told me, 'your disease comes from your head,' said Skalik. "This helps to relax."



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