What do I do now? Many questions may arise once cancer treatments are completed. These patients may feel lost and have little guidance on what to expect after treatment. Different emotions, ranging from happiness to uncertainty and fear, can be overwhelming for an individual. Therefore, it is important to develop a plan of action and equip individuals with necessary tools for life after cancer treatment.
It is important to maintain a healthy and nutritious eating style after your treatment. Your diet should consist mainly of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, and plant-based fats. It is best to limit processed food, added sugars, and red meat. If you need assistance in starting or maintaining a healthy diet, consult an oncology registered dietician to create a nutrition plan.
Many doctors will stress the importance of staying active after cancer treatment. In many instances, an exercise program can help with certain cancer treatment side effects, including but not limited to, fatigue, decreased range of motion, weakness, neuropathy, lymphedema, and depression. In addition, physical activity after treatments, attributes to better survival rates and can lower cancer recurrences.
Setting goals for yourself is the key to staying active and healthy post treatments. Short-term goals that are easily attainable are more likely to become common nature and habits. Make sure your exercise program is flexible, as to not discourage you if you miss a day. Every body is different and heals differently. Having patience in your life after treatment is very important because even though you are indulging in physical activity, you might not see results right away.
Fear of Recurrence
After treatment ends, one of the most common concerns survivors have is the possibility that the cancer will return. The fear of recurrence is a normal emotional reaction to finishing cancer treatment. There are healthy ways to cope with the stress caused by these fears. Here are some tips to help cope with fear of recurrence.
Fear and anxiety are normal during survivorship. By tackling your fears head on, you’re taking back control of your life after cancer.
Cancer Treatment Side Effects
Side effects as a result of cancer treatments are inevitable. They could show up right away or show up much later after the treatments are finished. Since an individual’s cancer treatment is unique, their side effects will also differ.
Some common side effects can include fatigue, changes in appearance, pain, lymphedema, bone density loss, to name a few. These side effects can last any length of time. Some can be permanent, and some can be temporary. These side effects will vary depending on diagnosis. When managing and coping with your side effects, it is important to listen to your healthcare team and keep an open mind about receiving help from others.
Cancer not only affects the patient, but family members as well. After cancer treatment, caregivers play an important part in a survivor’s life. Even though the role of caregiver plays vital significance, it is important for each caregiver to take time for their selves and participate in self- care.
Some tips to help caregivers after cancer treatment can include: allowing the patient to express their feelings and concerns, listening and learning during doctor’s appointments, not forgetting to take care of themselves, and being organized for the road ahead after treatment.
The Importance of Your Healthcare and Social Work Team
Knowing the importance of follow-up appointments after your treatment can be beneficial to your health. During follow-ups, your healthcare team and monitor you and can watch out for signs of recurrence. They can also help with tips for coping with every day life and they can provide encouragement to keep your spirits uplifted. Since your healthcare team was involved during your cancer treatment, they should also be involved in your cancer recovery.
Your social work team can also play a big part in your cancer recovery. They can help you in finding support groups that focus on life after cancer and survivor support groups. If you are in need of additional resources, reach out to your social work team.
Dealing with cancer is definitely not an easy task. However, armed with this arsenal of tips for coping with life after treatment, it should ease the transition from life during and after cancer treatment. Ackerman Cancer Center has many resources to help with life after treatment. Our patients have access to a variety of support services throughout the entire cancer treatment process including oncology counseling, social workers, wellness specialists, and wellness programs.
One wellness program that will be offered at Ackerman Cancer Center is “What Now?” Lifestyle Beyond Cancer. The first set of sessions will be held at our Amelia Island location from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on February 20, February 27, March 6, and March 13. To RSVP, please contact Lauren DeWitt at (904) 277-2700.
This wellness program will occur multiple times throughout the year at different locations. If you would like to know more about these times, please contact either our Jacksonville or Amelia Island locations.