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Your cancer treatment has ended and it’s time to rejoice. Right? Yet, the feeling that follows once you leave the oncology clinic may not be what you expected. Until now, your focus has probably been on finding a health care team, choosing among your treatment options, and just trying to get through treatment one step at a time.
Now that your treatments are over, you may find yourself in a strange place. You may have new questions and concerns about what is going to happen next. Is the cancer gone for good? Will I face more side effects of past treatment or disease? The realm of survivorship after treatment seems to have whole new meaning.
Cancer treatment can be an emotional roller coaster, with some up days and some down days. Now that your treatment is over, new emotions may surface. You may feel relieved to be finished with treatment, and, at the same time, worried about the future. These feelings are a normal part of cancer survivorship.
The following are common emotions cancer survivors experience after treatment:
One of the biggest challenges after treatment is not knowing what will happen next. Fear of the cancer coming back (recurrence) is common and understandable. The fact that you are no longer actively receiving treatments, or that your medical status is not being watched as closely by your healthcare team, can leave you feeling vulnerable.
Every survivor handles fear of recurrence differently. There may be certain moments during your survivorship when you are more worried about the cancer coming back than others. You may also find that your fears of recurrence diminish as time passes. It is important to remember that even if the cancer comes back, there may be new treatment options available to you that were not available before.
NOTE: AFTER CANCER TREATMENT, IT IS NORMAL TO EXPERIENCE STRONG EMOTIONS. HOWEVER, IT IS IMPORTANT TO KEEP YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER INFORMED ABOUT HOW YOU ARE FEELING.
Now that you have gone through treatment, you can focus your energies on getting your life back to "normal." But, what is normal? The idea that you can pick up where you left off before cancer seems difficult.
It can take time to recover from cancer, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. And although life may not return to exactly the way it was before you were diagnosed, you can find ways to move forward. Instead of trying to “get back to normal,” try to find out what is normal for you now. Your “new normal" may include making changes in your diet, lifestyle and relationships with others.
NOTE: THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED NOR IMPLIED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTHCARE PROVIDER REGARDING YOUR FOLLOW-UP CARE.
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