Treatment is finished. Your doctors have told you that your cancer is cured, that it is in remission, or that it can be managed with medications. But where does this leave you after weeks or even months of active, sometimes aggressive treatment?
Cancer does not define you. But from the moment you were diagnosed, shared the news with family, friends, co-workers and neighbours, and began treatment, your life changed. You were focused on yourself. On how your family might cope. On your fears. On your physical feelings as your body dealt with surgery and medication and the changes they brought.
Some people who have had cancer find it hard to return to a normal life and “normal” may be completely different now. Part of this might be the loss of the daily support you may have had from your healthcare team. It might be the difficulty in resuming the routines you had before your cancer diagnosis, or the attitudes of those around you, or the feeling that you have somehow been absent from your own life for a while.
Feelings of fatigue may overwhelm you at times, but there are ways to cope with this:
- Pace yourself. Consider taking naps during the day if you are feeling tired.
- Learn to say no to things you don’t feel like doing.
- Consider changing your eating patterns. Small, frequent meals throughout the day may give you more energy than sitting down for regular meals.
- Decide what’s important in your day and plan the most important things for when you know you will have the most energy.
- Don’t hesitate to tell your doctor if you are suffering from fatigue, and never assume that nothing can be done to help.
- Don’t give up the things you enjoy, but do them a little differently. Love movies? Watch them at home instead of going out. Read a book, listen to music, do restful things that don’t tire you.
You want to live a healthy life after treatment, and that means taking good care of yourself — and letting others help take care of you. Ask your physician or pharmacist to help you develop a plan that will allow you to manage your stress, become active again, eat well, regain the weight you may have lost (and maintain your weight) and resume your normal activities in a reasonable amount of time.
- Don’t push yourself, and don’t let anyone else decide what’s right for you or when. For example, if you’re planning to go back to work, don’t jump into a full schedule right away.
- Take good care of yourself. Schedule regular follow-up visits with your healthcare team.
- Ask for help with errands and housework. Don’t try to do everything yourself.
Some days you might be more tired than usual, be worried that your cancer may come back and perhaps feel that no one understands you. Let your friends and family help you – but also consider finding a support group whose members are people just like you. Never hesitate to ask for help. It’s your life.
Need someone who understands? Search “cancer” in Find Support — our unique database of non-profit Canadian organizations to find support groups on a broad range of disease areas and health topics.