Kara Flickinger

When one is diagnosed with cancer, the world suddenly changes. The calendar becomes filled with doctors’ appointments, blood work appointments, procedure appointments, more doctors’ appointments, more confusion. Through all these appointments, you begin to lose sight of yourself as a person, and now feel as though you are a ‘cancer patient.’ A cancer patient, who is fighting, winning and living! Living, how am I supposed to do this, you may think?! Really, living, I have cancer….

Living is simple. You breathe air, your heart beats, you fuel your body, you take your medications and mind continues to function. But, living with cancer is more than just living. Living with cancer is being a SURVIVOR. A survivor who has a new perception of living!

So, why is living with cancer so different? Well, let’s start with your new life. You still have doctor’s appointments, treatment appointments and medications to take. But, you also have a new family at the cancer center. We believe in you, we cheer for you and we care for you. We care about not only you as a person, but you as a husband, wife, brother, sister, son, daughter, grandma and grandpa. You are a person who is still living.

Beginning from the time of diagnosis, the focus is shifted immediately to you. Why should you continue to take excellent care of yourself from the time of diagnosis thru cure or even if you have Stage IV cancer? It’s simple, you are still LIVING!!! Living with cancer, in any stage, you still must take care for yourself.

As a provider at the WellSpan Adams Cancer Center, we focus our patient care on you as a person, not a statistic. We partner with you to make sure you are eating healthy throughout treatments and after treatments. We collaborate with your primary care provider (PCP) and any other providers you may see to help manage your other medical problems, so you have less complications from chemotherapy treatments, both during treatment and after treatment. We focus on your medications to ensure your blood pressure and blood sugars are controlled, so we can keep your heart and kidneys working as best as they possibly can. We focus your physical strength, so you can continue to attend your children’s or grandchildren’s activities and enjoy them. We focus on your appearance, so if you lose your hair, you feel confident to wear your wig, hat or scarf in public. We focus on YOU, a cancer survivor!

No matter where you are in the cancer trajectory, you are a survivor and are still living! You are a person, you are YOU! Living with cancer should not be scary. Living with cancer should not be feared. Rather, you should embrace living with cancer and continue living your life as the new you!

Kara R. Flickinger, MSN, FNP-C, is a nurse practitioner at the WellSpan Adams Cancer Center in Gettysburg. For more information on comprehensive cancer care services available through WellSpan Health, please visit WellSpan.org/Cancer.

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