It’s an exciting time when your doctor declares you to be cancer-free. This is definitely reason to celebrate! However, keep in mind that you’re not out of the woods. There’s still a long road ahead. Here are four things to remember when preparing for recovery.
Lesson 1: Transitioning to recovery is stressful.
Although active cancer treatment is one of the most physically demanding periods in your life,
survivorship can be even more mentally and emotionally demanding. Being declared clear from cancer doesn’t mean everything can go back to normal. You now have concerns about ongoing monitoring, loss of a structured and supportive environment, problems with reentering society, and diminished physical wellbeing because of treatment effects. Your biggest fear probably will be that the cancer will return, or you may develop a new cancer. Regarding this last concern, if you feel a new lump, notice a symptom, or discover some other concern, track it for two weeks. If it doesn’t improve, call your doctor.
Lesson 2: Your fight isn’t over when it’s over.
Your post-treatment/survivorship phase of cancer involves physical, mental, psychological, social, economic, and spiritual changes. Whether positive or negative, you probably will experience issues related to some or all of these areas. Keep in mind that changes are normal, necessary, and to be expected. This is part of your new normal.
Lesson 3: You have to plan for recovery.
Although active cancer treatment had every moment scheduled for you by your medical team, this type of care typically stops when you’re declared cancer-free. As a result, you need to plan for your recovery. A good resource to use is the ASCO Survivorship Care Plan. One side of the document has information about the treatments you had. The other side has plans for the future and many resources. Share this resource with your doctor if they don’t already have a plan in place.
Lesson 4: Cancer may provide opportunities for positive changes.
Many positives can result from facing your own mortality. You might make fitness or lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of cancer overall. Or, there could be interpersonal relationships you decide to improve on.
If you or someone you know is battling cancer, reach out to Chix 4 a Cause. Learn more about our Gifts of Love program at chix4acause.org today.