Calgary

Cancer survivors suffer in silence often struggling in post-treatment life, report suggests

Charlotte Kessler was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer when she was 32 and had her last round of chemotherapy in 2015. That's when the hardest part began.

One in three don't tell their doctors about physical and emotional challenges

Charlotte Kessler said years of cancer treatment left her emotionally drained and lonely. (Submitted/Associated Press)

A majority of cancer patients report having physical and emotional challenges after treatment ends, according to a report from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. 

The report looked at the experiences of more than 30,000 people. 

Eight out of 10 say they continue to have physical challenges after treatment, and seven in 10 report having emotional challenges. One out of three don't report those problems to their doctor. 

"It tells us that our communication from who's following the patient can probably be improved," said Mona Delisle with Cancer Control Alberta. 

Delisle said solutions are being worked on, including having patients fill out a distress tool that helps doctors meet their needs. 

"It's unfortunate, but we know when you finish cancer treatment you're not done. You're a survivor. You're living with this and it does change your life forever," she said. 

"Post-treatment has probably been the hardest"

Charlotte Kessler was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer when she was 32. Her last round of chemotherapy was in November of 2015,

"As surprising as this may sound, post-treatment has probably been the hardest," she said.  

That's because of the physical and mental toll the disease and treatment took on her. The years of treatment on her brain made her unable to do her job, and she feels guilt about the stress it puts on her family. 

"There's days and moments where I'm too tired to do something that I feel I should be doing for my family or for myself," she said. 

"And just can't."

Kessler said she's getting the help she needs now, but it took eight to 12 months to see a psychologist at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. 

"We're making huge strides in treating the disease, providing the right medicines, taking the right tests. We're getting better and better at that. But we still need to see the patients as people throughout the journey," she said.

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