Survivorship

Karen Beamish

On January 1, 2005, in the United States there were approximately 360,081 men and women in the U.S. with a history of cancer of the lung and bronchus. About one in 14 will be diagnosed with cancer of the lung and bronchus during their lifetime. Data from the National Cancer Institute estimates the overall 5-year relative survival rate for lung and bronchus cancer to be 15.2%.

Karen Beamish, a 64-year-old who never smoked, is one of those survivors. In 1996 at age 52, she was diagnosed with stage II adeno squamous carcinoma (non small cell) lung cancer.

As part of her treatment Karen had surgery to remove a lobe — almost half of the left upper portion of her lung — and then went on to receive four cycles of adjuvant chemotherapy over a three-month period. Two years later, six months after her last CT scan, she had a recurrence in her thorax (chest) area for which she was treated with concurrent chemo and radiation therapy.

Karen came to the survivorship program with the all-too-common complaint of ongoing fatigue. She felt her energy level was lower than normal and that her stamina was not what it was prior to her cancer diagnosis. Karen had also experienced a fair amount of stress in her life in the two years leading up to her survivorship program clinic appointment. "Of course it's difficult to know how much fatigue and memory loss is due to age and how much can be attributed to treatment. However, I do push myself because I have a lot of living to do and I want to remain active."

As part of her visit, our survivorship program staff reviewed Karen's treatment summary and potential late effects. She received recommendations for screening and referrals to specialists. The survivorship program's multidisciplinary team, evaluated Karen's reported fatigue. A physical therapist then worked with Karen to develop an individualized plan to improve strength, endurance and balance with the overall goal of reducing her fatigue and incidence of lung infection.