Cancer Support: Life After Treatment

Overview

Everyone who goes through cancer has a time of adjustment afterward. This is part of your recovery, and it may take longer than you expect. These tips may help.

  • Give yourself time to make sense of it all.

    Surviving cancer is something to celebrate. But many people find that the time after treatment is different than they expected. It may be hard to make sense of how cancer has affected you.

    • Some changes may be tough to deal with. You may have pain or scars from treatment. And even though you're well, you may still feel distress over everything you went through.
    • Some changes may be good. You may have a fresh outlook on life and feel that you've been given a second chance.

    This is a time of adjustment, taking care of yourself, and finding your new "normal." Be patient with yourself, and remember that there's no right or wrong way to feel.

  • Accept changes in your relationships.

    Cancer changes families. It can create closer bonds, but it also can bring out difficult emotions. Here are some things you can do to help your family adjust.

    Let them know what you can and can't handle.
    Even though your treatment is over, you may not have enough energy to do all the things you used to do. Let your family know that you still need their help.
    Help them understand that it takes time.
    Talk about how cancer has changed your family and how some things may not go back to the way they were before cancer.
    Be honest with your children.
    Speak openly about your cancer and recovery, and let them ask questions.

    Some other relationships may be different now too. You may have new friends because of cancer. You may have grown closer to some of the people in your life. Or maybe you feel disappointed in people you thought you could count on.

  • Seek a sense of closure.

    Cancer isn't something you'll ever forget, but it's important to look to the future. You might have a party to mark the end of your treatment. A ritual or celebration can help you put this phase of your life behind you. Or you may want some time alone to think about what you've been through and how to move forward.

  • Get help with moving on.

    Even though your treatment is over, cancer may continue to affect the way you think and feel. You may worry about the cancer coming back or feel stressed about medical bills. You may feel lonely after the people in your support network go back to their regular routines. You may wish that you could leave it all behind. These feelings are normal. Everyone has their own reactions after cancer.

    Think about getting help during this stage of your recovery. Your doctor can help you find counselors and support groups.

    • Counseling can help you work through your emotions.
    • A cancer survivor group will connect you with people who understand what you're going through because they've been there too.

Credits

Current as of: September 8, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine

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