What life looks like after cancer

January 03, 2018 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

The time you never thought would come is finally here — your cancer treatment is officially over. A new chapter in your life is about to begin. You may ask yourself, what does life look like after cancer?

The end of treatment often sparks a different set of emotions. You may feel relieved and overjoyed, but at the same time nervous and scared about the future. You aren’t alone. 

Facing new emotions and learning how to deal with them is important. Mood changes, or mood swings, may occur at any time. Learn how to deal with mood swings after treatment.

Many people struggle with fear and anxiety when treatment ends. It is not uncommon to worry that cancer may return. These tips can help you fight the fear of recurrence. 

Some survivors also struggle with survivor guilt or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This can come in the form of anxiety, regret, blame, fear or sadness. The good news is that there are strategies to help you reduce guilty feelings, and ways you can manage PTSD.

When you’re in remission, you don’t see your cancer team as often. You may feel a little lost without their support. Joining a support group with others who are in a similar situation can help. On days you would rather stay home, connect with others in an online support group.

You may also view yourself differently once treatment has ended. Both the disease and its treatment may have changed your physical appearance and abilities. Allow yourself time to adjust, and know that some of these changes are temporary. 

Life may be a bit different after cancer, but as time passes, you may find the future looks bright. Try these strategies to navigate this new journey of cancer survivorship:

  • Build a network of friends and family who can support and encourage you.
  • Ask for and accept help. Asking friends to babysit, hiring a housekeeper, or buying prepared meals helps free up time to focus on healing.
  • Stay calm and, if you are able, embrace humor. Laughter has many positive effects on the mind and body and it can help you relax during a transitional time.
  • Remain active. Physical activity gives you more energy and is good for your overall well-being. Social activities can also help you feel connected and fulfilled.

Every person has their own way of moving on with life once treatment ends. The key to returning to normal is finding your “new normal” by celebrating milestones as they come, leaning on others and doing what works for you. 

Related blogs:

What does it mean to be in remission? 

 5 steps to live a healthier life after cancer treatment

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