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Cancer survivorship

At Gundersen, cancer survivorship is about more than life after treatment. As the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) says, "An individual is considered a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis through the balance of his or her life." In other words, at Gundersen we consider you a cancer survivor whether you are living with, through or beyond cancer.

Knowing every person's survivorship journey is unique, our COMPASS program offers comprehensive support for the many physical, emotional and social challenges you may face at varying stages after a cancer diagnosis. With your care team, our survivorship resources are available to help you:

  • Transition into active treatment and into life after treatment
  • Coordinate follow-up care during and after treatment
  • Find the tools you need to be well during all stages of survivorship
  • Establish or maintain healthy lifestyle choices that meet your changing needs

Survivorship resources

No matter where you are in your survivorship journey, our experts have compiled a comprehensive collection of resources to support you, your family and friends as you navigate life after a cancer diagnosis. Some may be more appropriate than others at certain times during or after treatment. Your care team can help you find the best resources available for you at every stage of survivorship.

General information

Survivorship (ASCO) - This section of the American Society of Clinical Oncology website offers information on: learning about survivorship, long-term side effects of cancer treatment, follow-up care, dealing with cancer recurrence and life after cancer.

Facing Forward: Life after Cancer Treatment (Booklet, 62 pages) - This booklet, available from the National Cancer Institute, is for people who have completed cancer treatment, though family and friends may also want to read this booklet. The booklet is available in PDF, Amazon Kindle format and in ePub format for other e-Readers. (Spanish version also available)

Life after Cancer (NCCN) - This section of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network website covers a variety of survivorship topics, including: managing cancer as a chronic condition, understanding your risk of developing secondary cancers, pregnancy after cancer, nutrition and exercise.

Survivorship During and After Treatment - This section of the American Cancer Society website offers information on: living well during treatment, finding support during treatment, moving on and being healthy after treatment and understanding recurrence.

Survivorship Library (Journey Forward) - The Journey Forward survivorship library covers a number of topics, including: follow-up care guidelines for many types of cancer, fertility preservation, financial and legal matters, genetic counseling, late side effects and more.

Eating healthy

Nutrition, Gundersen Health System - The Gundersen Health System nutrition therapy staff is working to improve the health and well-being of the community. Read the nutrition articles and search or browse through the many recipes. Each recipe contains a nutrition analysis.

Stanek Cancer Library, Gundersen Health System - The Stanek Cancer Library has many books on cancer, diet and nutrition, exercise and emotional support. Search the Library Catalog for books, CDs and videos. There you can search for a current list of cookbooks for cancer patients, or contact the library at (608) 775-1186.

Cancer Nutrition Consortium, Recipes - This is a recipe database that contains recipes developed by chefs from the Culinary Institute of America and a number of cancer centers in the U.S. Users can search by course (i.e. beverages, desserts, entrees, salads) and by nutrition indicator (i.e. calorie packed, easy to swallow, energy boosting).

Eating Hints: Before, During, and After Cancer Treatment (Booklet) - This booklet from the National Cancer Institute covers common types of eating problems and ways you can manage them. The booklet is available in PDF, Amazon Kindle format and ePub format (for other e-Readers).

Managing Your Weight after a Diagnosis of Cancer: A Guide for Patients and Their Families (Booklet) - This booklet by the American Society of Clinical Oncology was developed to educate patients and their caregivers on the benefits of achieving or maintaining a healthy weight during and after cancer care.

Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors - These guidelines were published in "CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians."

Oncology Nutrition, a Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics - This website provides answers to many cancer nutrition questions. Check out the "Eat Right to Fight Cancer" section for recipes, menus and dietary questions and answers.


LiveStrong at the YMCA, La Crosse (Program) - LiveStrong is a 12-week small-group fitness program for adult cancer survivors who have become deconditioned or chronically fatigued from their treatment and/or disease. The program includes:

  • Free 12-week YMCA Family Membership
  • Two 75-minute classes per week
  • A combination of individual instruction and group activities

Participants must receive medical clearance and are evaluated on an individual basis. Contact: LiveStrong at the YMCA Project Manager, Rachel LaValley, at (608) 519-5473 or email

Learn more

A New Direction at the YMCA, La Crosse (Program) – A New Direction is a 24-session physical activity program to assist youth and young adult cancer survivors (up to age 30) regain their health and well-being. The program includes:

  • 24 free sessions with a certified instructor
  • A one on one safe and comfortable environment

Participants must receive medical clearance and are evaluated on an individual basis. Contact: A New Direction at the YMCA Project Manager, Rachel LaValley, at (608) 519-5473 or email

Winona Survivors Unite in Exercise (Program) - Winona State University, Gundersen Health System Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, and Winona Health are teaming up to offer a free, customized exercise program for cancer patients. The goal of the program is to help patients maintain or improve strength, endurance, flexibility and wellness following treatment.

  • Meeting Time: The program is offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:45 to 7:45 a.m.
  • Location: Winona State University Wellness Complex - Room 136
  • Requirements: Check with your physician to determine if you are ready for the program.

Contact Winona Survivors Unite in Exercise Project Manager, Winona State University at (507) 457-5219 or email, to register for this free exercise program.

Living Smart (Booklet) - Available from the American Cancer Society. Contact the Cancer Patient Coordinator at (608) 775-1359.

Physical Activity and the Cancer Patient - This American Cancer Society article discusses exercise during and after cancer treatment. It provides information about different types of exercises and tips to help you increase your physical activity.

Emotional support

Gundersen Support Groups

Gundersen offers a variety of support groups to help you and your loved ones deal with any challenges that may stem from a cancer diagnosis. Support groups provide a comfortable, open environment to share experiences and offer emotional support to others in similar situations.

Learn more about our cancer support groups, including meeting times and locations.

Other Support Groups

American Cancer Society Cancer Survivors Network (Online Support) - This is a free online community created by and for people with cancer and their families.

  1. To get started, go to
  2. Click on the "Register" button
  3. Fill out the registration form
  4. Click on the "Create new account" button
  5. You will receive an email from the Cancer Survivors Network website with an account activation link. Click on the link and log in.

Support for People with Oral, Head and Neck Cancer (SPOHNC) - This organization is dedicated to raising awareness and meeting the needs of oral, head and neck cancer patients through its resources and publications. There are local chapters that provide support in Eau Claire, Appleton, Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There are also support groups in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Des Moines, Iowa.

Financial support and legal issues

Financial Advocate, Gundersen Health System - Potential expenses after a cancer diagnosis can create anxiety, and understanding insurance coverage and benefits can be confusing. You have access to a financial advocate to help you and your family:

  • Access resources for your current and future expenses
  • Estimate future expenses
  • Review and understand hospital or clinic bills and insurance coverage, including deductibles and out of pocket costs

To ask about the options described above, call (608) 775-2385.

Financial Assistance, Gundersen Health System - Gundersen Health System would like to help as much as possible with any medical expenses that you or your family may accumulate at any of our facilities. All patients who feel that they may be eligible for Financial Assistance are encouraged to apply. Financial assistance application forms are available upon request and without charge.

Understanding Financial and Legal Matters - This American Cancer Society has resources and support to help navigate legal, financial, workplace and insurance concerns.

What Cancer Survivors Need to Know about Health Insurance (Booklet, 43 pages) - This publication has been created by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) to provide cancer survivors and their loved ones general information about health insurance. Sections include: types of health insurance, know your rights and their limits, using your health coverage and where to find help and information.

Cancer and Careers - The Cancer and Careers website provides valuable information and resources related to working through cancer treatment, health insurance information, knowing your legal rights, finding legal assistance and more.

Working It Out: Your Employment Rights as a Cancer Survivor (Booklet, 32 pages) - This booklet addresses the challenges that many survivors face when it comes to their employment rights and offers advice and resources to address those challenges.
This publication is made available by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS).

Integrative medicine

Integrative Medicine, Gundersen Health System - Gundersen Health System has long offered a number of complementary medical services because we believe in treating the whole person, not just a condition. Our integrative medical services are evidence-based therapies that complement more traditional forms of healthcare.

Acupuncture, Gundersen Health System - Acupuncture stimulates the body's natural healing abilities and promotes physical and emotional well-being. Many people find that acupuncture provides relief from chronic pain.

Essential Oils, Gundersen Health System - A healing environment can help us feel better. Essential oils are one of the things that may help positively influence this environment. These oils may help to promote sleep and decrease pain, nausea and anxiety. Gundersen Health System uses the "Healing Concepts" brand of essential oils because of its reputation with other healthcare organizations and its therapeutic qualities. A registered certified aromatherapist dilutes and prepares the oils and supplies important information, including a list of ingredients. Find Healing Concepts essential oils for purchase at  Gundersen Pharmacy - Onalaska Clinic, Level 1 - (608) 775-0850, or the Gift Shop, La Crosse Campus, Hospital, Level 1 - (608) 775-6615.

Integrative Medicine (ASCO) - Learn the difference between complementary and alternative therapies, find out how to evaluate a therapy if it is used along with a standard cancer treatment and read about the complementary therapies that have been shown to improve the quality of life of cancer patients.

Long-term effects of cancer

Long-Term Side Effects of Cancer Treatment - This article from the American Society of Clinical Oncologists details the type of late effects that may occur for cancer patients. These include: problems from surgery, heart problems, lung problems, memory problems and fatigue.

Possible Late Effects of Treatment - This article from the National Cancer Institute, Office of Cancer survivorship provides links to information on the following late effects of cancer treatment: fatigue, infertility, lymphedema, organ site (relates to problems with specific body organs), pediatric late effects and sexuality.

Chemo Brain - This article by the American Cancer Society addresses the issue of chemo brain, describing the symptoms and causes, providing day-to-day coping skills for those affected and providing questions to ask your doctor or health care team.

National Lymphedema Network - The National Lymphedema Network (NLN) is an internationally recognized non-profit organization that was founded in 1988 to provide education and guidance to lymphedema patients, healthcare professionals and the general public by disseminating information about risk reduction and the management of primary and secondary lymphedema.

Sexuality and fertility

Sexuality for the Woman with Cancer (Booklet) - In this guide, the American Cancer Society offers information about cancer, sex and sexuality. The article details how cancer treatment affects sexual desire and response. This information can help you talk with your partner about your sex life. (Spanish version also available)

Sexuality for the Man with Cancer (Booklet) - In this guide, the American Cancer Society offers information about cancer and the physical effects of cancer treatment on the male body. (Spanish version also available)

Smoking cessation

Nicotine Cessation Programs, Gundersen Health System- Gundersen offers a variety of programs to help you quit tobacco. Our experts will help you in your quest to become healthier.

Other Resources

American Cancer Society - Guide to Quitting Smoking - This website discusses nicotine addiction, how to get help with the mental and physical parts of addiction, nicotine replacement therapy, creating a quit smoking plan and more. (Spanish version also available)

Smart Move! - A Stop Smoking Guide (Booklet) - This booklet is available from the American Cancer Society. Contact the Cancer Patient Coordinator at (608) 775-1359. - This website will help you design a quit smoking plan. It also provides information about getting physically active and eating healthier. In the Tools and Tips section, there are two mobile apps that can help you get ready to quit, and stay smoke free.

Tobacco Quit Lines - Call for free counseling and possible medicine discounts.

There is also a new eReferral program for Quit lines. You do not have to take the first step by calling the quit line. Your healthcare provider can submit an eReferral and a Quit coach will call you within 3 days.

Breast cancer survivorship

Follow-Up Care for Breast Cancer - The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) provides recommendations for follow-up care for women who have received treatment for breast cancer. Follow-up care is important to help maintain good health, manage any side effects from treatment, watch for signs that the cancer has come back after treatment and screen for other types of cancer.

Living as a Breast Cancer Survivor - The American Cancer Society provides a typical follow-up schedule for those who have finished breast cancer treatment. Other sections include: keeping medical records, managing long-term side effects and what to do if the cancer comes back.

Survivorship - The survivorship section of the American Society of Breast Surgeons Foundation website provides specific information about: follow up care, lymphedema, integrative medicine, acupuncture, intimacy after breast cancer and physical therapy.

Other resources

John & Nettie Mooney Library and Stanek Cancer Library, Gundersen Health System - Patient Education Librarians can help you locate the information you need to make informed decisions about your healthcare. The Mooney Libraries are located on the first level of the hospital and the fourth level of the Onalaska Clinic. The Stanek Cancer Library is located in the Hematology/Oncology waiting room on the second level of the East Building. Visit our Website to search for health information, and use our library catalog to search for books, CDs and DVDs. To talk with a librarian, call (608) 775-1186.

Cancer Patient Coordinator - We have a Cancer Patient Coordinator on site that can help you and your family:

  • Connect with financial assistance programs, transportation, temporary room and board and other services
  • Understand your disease through educational materials
  • Receive emotional support through ACS programs

Contact the Cancer Patient Coordinator at (608) 775-1359.

Scarves and Wigs - Scarves and wigs are available from the Cancer Patient Coordinator in La Crosse. Contact the Cancer Patient Coordinator at (608) 775-1359.

TLC (Tender Loving Care) is a not-for-profit website and catalog of the American Cancer Society. Their mission is to help women cope during and after cancer treatment by providing wigs and other hair loss products, as well as mastectomy products, at affordable prices.

Mastectomy Bras and Prostheses - Ask your cancer provider about resources that may be helpful to you.

Knitted Knockers - Knitted Knockers are a light comfortable knitted prosthetic alternative or temporary form for women who have had a mastectomy. Knitted Knockers are made and donated by volunteers across the country.

Educational Scholarships - Educational scholarship information is available from the Cancer Patient Coordinator in La Crosse. Contact the Cancer Patient Coordinator at (608) 775-1359.

Survivorship visit

Your survivorship journey after treatment may look very different from life just months or weeks earlier. That's why we encourage cancer survivors who have completed active treatment to recognize this significant moment by scheduling a one-time post-treatment survivorship visit to review your treatment summary and develop an individualized care plan for life moving forward. To schedule an appointment, please talk with your oncologist for a referral.

The survivorship visit is supported by the Sheila Caine Cancer Survivorship Fund. If you would like to help, consider making a donation and designate it to the Sheila Caine Cancer Survivorship Fund.

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