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Congratulations on Finishing Your Cancer Treatment!

What Happens Next?


Wellness image

The end of cancer treatment is often a time to rejoice. You are probably relieved to be finished with the demands of treatment and are ready to put the experience behind you. Yet at the same time, you may feel sad and worried. It’s common to be concerned about whether the cancer will come back and what you should do after treatment.

When treatment ends, you may expect life to return to the way it was before you were diagnosed with cancer. But it can take time to recover. You may have permanent scars on your body, or you may not be able to do some things you once did easily. Or you may even have emotional scars from going through so much. You may find that others think of you differently now – or you may view yourself in a different way. One of the hardest things after treatment is not knowing what happens next.

You can expect things to keep changing as you begin your recovery

What Is “Normal” After Cancer Treatment?
Those who have gone through cancer treatment describe the first few months as a time of change. It’s not so much “getting back to normal” as it is finding out what’s normal for you now. People often say that life has new meaning or that they look at things differently now. You can also expect things to keep changing as you begin your recovery. Your new “normal” may include making changes in the way you eat, the things you do, and your sources of support.

What Does the Future Hold?
The end of treatment can be a time to look forward to the future. New rituals and new beginnings can bring a sense of relief and joy. It may also be a time of physical and emotional change. Now that treatment is over, try to take time to get back in tune with yourself. Allow healing time for you and your family members and caregivers. Think about what you can do to begin living without cancer as a main focus.

Whether good or bad, life-changing situations often give people the chance to grow, learn, and appreciate what’s important to them. Many people with cancer describe their experience as a journey. It’s not necessarily a journey they would have chosen for themselves. But it sometimes presents the opportunity to look at things in a different way.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Source: National Cancer Institute

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, March/April 2009.