At the beginning of treatment getting back to good health might seem unimaginable. But as time goes on you will start to think about how you will celebrate your last chemotherapy treatment and how to put all of this behind you.
However, reaching the end of active treatment can create a whole range of emotions including relief and joy, but also sadness, anger and anxiety about the future. These can appear immediately, or several months or even years after active treatment has ended, and many people who have been diagnosed with cancer have experienced this.
Initially, you may feel relieved to have a break from going to hospital, especially if you were attending daily for radiotherapy. The hospital and its staff may feel like a second home. It has provided you with a safety net – there has been a support system in place to answer any concerns or doubts you may have had. When you are discharged, it can feel like your support network has been removed overnight. You are supposed to deal with your feelings and emotions and get on with it.
You may have lost confidence or trust in your body, especially if you felt well prior to diagnosis. You may feel like your body has let you down. You are better, but you know all about the statistics concerning cancer returning, and the lack of control over your future can be frightening.
“Who should I speak to if I have these concerns?”
It’s completely common to worry about cancer returning post treatment. Every time you get an ache or pain, the panic sets in. Often the support network of friends who have been there for you during this difficult time have withdrawn, believing that the ordeal is over and you can now get back to a normal life.
Or the people around you just assume that because you’ve finished treatment and your hair is growing back, you’re back to your normal self. People often refer to life after active treatment as the ‘new normal’ as you may never feel like the person you were before.
Or you return to work and you begin to get stressed about things that didn’t bother you before. Nobody there seems to understand what you have been through and continue to experience. Fatigue is a common issue and very misunderstood by employers and co-workers.
How can I help?
You’ve climbed the mountain and come down the other side. You’ve finished your treatment and you’ve got the “all clear.” You’ve been sent on your merry way with instructions to come back in 6-12 months for a blood test and scan. It may surprise you to know that many patients have reported that they have found this part of the journey to be one of the most difficult of all.
Many people find that they aren’t the same person they once were. Your confidence may have taken a big knock, especially if you live in fear of the cancer returning.
Together, we can work through your fears and develop a plan that takes you forward into your new life feeling empowered, positive and strong.