Life is different after cancer. Yes, there’s the relief of no more cancer treatments, but there’s also the discovery of new challenges that cancer survivorship can bring. These challenges are often referred to as adjusting to a “new normal.”
For many cancer survivors, this new normal takes some getting used to. For starters, you may be filled with thoughts of uncertainty about the future and experiencing a wide range of emotions you’re not used to dealing with. At the same time, you may be recognizing that life has a different meaning now that you’re moving past the cancer treatment phase.
The challenge isn’t so much getting back to the way things were before receiving a cancer diagnosis. Rather it’s about figuring out what is normal for you now that you’re done with cancer treatment.
This type of adjustment is unique for each survivor. Whatever your new normal may be, remember that it’s okay to take time for yourself until you’ve become comfortable with the changes. Take it one day at a time.
Your new normal may include:
Your cancer care team is still here for you during this transition, so be sure to talk openly with them about any struggles or concerns you have. They will be able to provide you with tips on how to cope or refer you to other sources of support.
While a variety of emotions present themselves after cancer treatment, the most common one among survivors is probably the fear that the cancer will come back (cancer reoccurrence). This is a completely normal emotional reaction and one that usually lessens over time. Still, the fear is real and often takes time to cope with it.
Some important steps you can take to help lessen the fear of cancer reoccurrence may include:
Some cancer survivors may have physical changes to cope with once treatment is done, which may include changes to the way you look, feel, and perform regular activities. Depending on the type of treatment given, some changes may be temporary, while others are permanent. Some treatments have no lingering effect at all.
Common physical changes that cancer survivors experience after treatment may include:
It is important to remember that you may experience changes that are very different from someone else and that adjusting to the effects of cancer treatment takes time. If you have questions or concerns about any of the changes in your body, be sure to talk with your NYOH oncologist or oncology nurse.