How to Get Back to Normal After Cancer Treatment Ends
As you approach the end of your cancer treatment, you probably can’t wait for things to get back to normal. But returning to a normal way of life takes time. Often, the side effects of treatment can last for several months after treatment ends, especially if you’ve had chemotherapy or traditional radiation treatment. You may also experience lasting emotional effects of cancer treatment, due to the stress of the experience. It’s important to know what to expect and how to cope.
Be Aware of the Late Effects of Cancer Treatment
Late effects of cancer treatment are those effects that appear after treatment ends. They may occur weeks, months, or even years after your treatment has ended, and they’re not always predictable. Some late effects go away after awhile, while others are more lasting.
You should talk to your cancer treatment team about any potential late effects you can expect to experience, especially since these effects can vary depending on what treatment or treatments you may have received. You can expect the lowest rate of late effects with CyberKnife, since it targets the cancerous tissue and leaves healthy tissue undamaged.
As your cancer treatment draws to an end, you may experience pleasant emotions like relief, excitement, and joy. You may look forward to resuming a more normal routine, spending more time with your loved ones, trying new things, traveling, or simply enjoying what you love most in life. But many survivors face less pleasant emotions after cancer treatment.
You may worry about the cancer coming back. You may feel lonely and isolated even in the company of friends and loved ones, because they don’t understand what it’s like to survive cancer. You may feel anger, grief, depression, a lack of confidence, or uncertainty about the future. Get support from friends and loved ones, attend counseling, or join a support group. Other ways to cope with your emotions include journaling, expressing yourself creatively, and exercising.
Take Care of Your Body
Cancer treatment can be a massive physical drain, and it can take a long time for your body to recover. After cancer treatment ends, take care of your body by getting enough rest, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet. If you drink alcohol, you may want to consider quitting, or at least keeping your consumption within recommended guidelines. If you smoke, quit smoking.
Your body may not bounce all the way back immediately after cancer treatment, and that’s normal. Make sure that family, friends, and neighbors understand that you may not be able to immediately resume your normal activities and commitments. A general rule of thumb is that recovery from the effects of cancer treatment can take about the same length of time as that which passed between the day when you or your doctor first suspected you might have cancer and the day of your last treatment. So, if you first received suspicious test results in January and you finished treatment in August, you may not be completely physically recovered for a full eight to nine months after your final treatment.
You may be looking forward to your last cancer treatment, but that doesn’t mean your life will return to normal right away. Be patient, get support, and take it easy, and soon you’ll find yourself living a full and vibrant life after cancer.