Returning to Life After Cancer

While my chemotherapy and maintenance treatment are completed, it has taken me months to return to a normal life. My monthly oncologist visits have changed to every three months. My CAT scan is now scheduled annually. I may look the same on the outside, but I am different and look at life from a different perspective. My priorities have changed, and I have found new meaning to life.

As a cancer survivor, I recognize that life is short, and each day is a gift. The focus is on the present and I try to spend more time doing what I want to do.

New perspectives after cancer

The following things have become more important in my life:

Relationships with loved ones

Recognize the importance of family and friends. Make an effort to spend time with those who were supportive during your cancer experience. Reconcile and forgive, look at relationships that are strained or can be improved. Identify feelings of resentment, hurt or neglect. I have reconnected with several family members, which has relieved an emotional burden.

Identify and connect with your community

Volunteering has given me purpose and gratification. Acting as a Patient Advocate for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society allow me to provide support for the newly diagnosed patient and helps me to feel as though I am making a difference. Consider becoming involved in a place like your church or synagogue. I have found tremendous support and comfort from my spiritual beliefs.

Find things that give you a sense of peace and gratitude

What were you doing the last time you felt joy? Spending time with my granddaughter brings a smile to my face. My mantra is to never miss an opportunity to be with her. Think about what makes you happy.

When do you feel most at peace? What promotes your comfort? Classical music has a calming effect on me. I also find peace in attending religious services. Consider making a list of things that help you feel positive.

Creating my "new now"

When do you feel most like the person you want to be? For me being kind and “giving back” helps me become a caring person.

No one is ever prepared for a cancer diagnosis. For some of us. it becomes part of our lives. If we live with and through it, it will transform us, and we can live our lives fully. You can create a “new now” by changing priorities and finding new meaning in life.

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