Transitioning to Life After Cancer

During my chemotherapy for blood cancer, I looked forward to life after cancer. I thought this new chapter would be filled with hope and happiness, but I felt fear and worry. Concern about recurrence was on my mind. How would my cancer diagnosis affect my friends, family, and co-workers? How will I be able to resume my prior role in my family or my teaching position? I felt anxious to see my physician less frequently.

I learned to give myself time

Consider doing things in small increments to give both your body and mind time to heal.

Be honest with the people around you. I spoke candidly with my director as to my concerns and requested to avoid the evening shift for this semester. Do not be afraid to ask for patience. Certain colleagues may act differently as some may not know how to treat a cancer survivor. You control your health information and decide how much information and to whom you want to share.

Try to stay positive. Learn to live with uncertainty. I was concerned about any aches and pains that could signal a recurrence. Learning how to take care of my health became my priority. Research has reported that reflexology and yoga can improve my immune system and promote relaxation. These exercises have become part of my daily routine. Meditation has also helped me to let go of my fears. It is important to find what activity you find relaxing and do it!

Seek support when you need it

Consider seeking support from friends, family, support groups, or counseling from a professional.

While having chemotherapy, due to incapacitating fatigue, I stopped doing almost everything. When my treatment ended, my challenge was what was I going to do now with my life? A wake-up call? In my new normal, life has a new meaning. My priorities changed. Faith, family, and friends are my new areas of importance. Work would be important but not the most important aspect of my life.

Be sure to plan follow-up care. Discuss which physician will oversee your care, how often to see the physician and what and how frequently to have diagnostic tests. I discovered my physician visits slowly transitioned from weekly to monthly and now every three months. Be sure to tell all physicians about your cancer and treatment. Keep your medical record available. I utilize a binder that includes my diagnosis, type of treatment, and pathology.

Celebrate your recovery as a cancer survivor! Do something nice for yourself. After being hospitalized twice during my chemotherapy for complications, I vowed to plan a family vacation. We were able to enjoy a family cruise with my son and his family. Your celebration may simply include a spa day, shopping excursions, anything that will make you happy.

Transition to life after cancer will pose challenges. The new normal is different for everyone.

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