Survivorship is not just about beating cancer. It is also about the life that comes after it. For many people, cancer treatment can be challenging, but the challenges can continue after the treatment is over as you work to restore your body following the impact of cancer treatments. The fear of reoccurrence, managing long-term health and wellness, and rebuilding that sense of self and purpose can be daunting at the best of times. However, it is essential to remember that life after cancer can also be full of joy and new opportunities!
One of the most significant challenges of survivorship, is managing the fear of recurrence. After going through the physical and emotional turmoil of cancer treatment, it is natural to worry about the cancer returning. Fear of recurrence can be overwhelming and can impact a person’s mental health. It can lead to anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, it is essential to recognise that the fear of recurrence is normal and that there are ways to manage it.
One way to manage the fear of recurrence is to stay informed about your health. It is crucial to attend follow-up appointments and regular screenings, and to report any unusual symptoms to your healthcare provider. It is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. By taking care of your health, you will improve your overall mental and physical health and well-being.
Another challenge of survivorship is managing long-term health and wellness. Cancer treatment can take a toll on the body, causing long-term side effects such as fatigue, pain, and cognitive difficulties. In addition, some cancer treatments can increase the risk of other health problems, such as heart disease and osteoporosis. It is essential to work with healthcare providers to manage any ongoing health issues and to take steps to prevent future health problems.
Managing long-term health and wellness also involves making lifestyle changes. For example, a person may need to adjust their diet or exercise routine to meet their changing health needs. They may also need to make variations in their work or home life to manage their symptoms. By taking a proactive approach to your health, you can improve your quality of life and reduce the risk of future health problems.
Finally, survivorship involves rebuilding one’s sense of self and purpose. Cancer can be a life-changing experience, and many people struggle with finding meaning and purpose after treatment. It is essential to take time to reflect on values, goals, and interests and to explore new opportunities for your personal growth and fulfilment.
Rebuilding your sense of self and purpose may involve seeking support from others, such as family, friends, or a support group. It may also involve trying new things, such as volunteering, taking classes, or pursuing a new hobby. By exploring new opportunities and connecting with others, you can find new meaning and purpose in life after cancer.
While survivorship can be challenging, it is important to remember that it can also be a time of joy and new opportunities. Many people find that they have a renewed appreciation for life and a greater sense of gratitude for the people and experiences that are important to them. By taking care of your health, managing the fear of recurrence, and exploring new opportunities for personal growth and fulfilment, you can find ways to thrive and enjoy life after cancer.