A lot has changed for cancer survivors in recent years and there is increasing knowledge about late and long-term effects of both cancer and its treatment. Indeed we even know more about how to prevent cancer from coming back and extend survivorship after treatment.
However cancer survivors can still feel isolated or emotional
- dealing with physical, emotional and cognitive changes
- dreading follow-up appointments,
- worrying about cancer coming back with every ache and pain.
- frightened, vulnerable or sad because of what’s happened to them
- lost now that treatment is over and they are no longer getting as much support from a cancer care team
- lonely because it’s hard for friends and family to understand what they have been through
- scared to be happy in case the cancer comes back
- confused about how to fit back into the old life
Cancer survivors can still have side effects
Cancer-related side effects can show up late and last throughout life. Just knowing that they may occur can add to existing anxiety. For example there may be tighter skin from radiotherapy, loss of body parts, lack of sex drive and so on.
So now, more than ever the cancer survivors need support and to know what to expect as they move forward and and to return to their favorite activities and home and maid services as soon as possible
Self-help tips on coping after cancer
- Be kind to yourself and recognise what you’ve been through and also recognise how well you have done.
- Give permission to grieve for what has been lost. You could find someone you feel you can talk to about it if it feels right for you.
- You don’t have to be positive all the time. Be honest with family and friends and tell them how you are feeling.
- Give yourself goals. For example, the idea of going out is difficult, go out with a friend or partner for 10 minutes then increase how long and how often you go out gradually.
- Build up your self-esteem: focus on what you have achieved and take time to look at all the good things that you have done and have to offer.
- Learn to trust your body again, eventually, you will start to have confidence in yourself as a ‘healthy person’ like you did before.
Cancer Survivors depression
If you find you are unable to enjoy life in a meaningful way for a prolonged amount of time, don’t be afraid to talk to your GP. It can be common for cancer survivors to experience depression, and many need extra help in adjusting to life after cancer.
And don’t forget that its great that you have reached this far.
- We took inspiration from an article written by Jolene Rowe: manager of Inpatient Social Work in the Department of Patient and Family Services at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL. Jolene supervises social workers in various disease site programs, she also oversees graduate student training, and develops and coordinates psycho-educational and therapeutic programs for both patients and families.
- Coping® with Cancer magazine, March/April 2017.
- Life after cancer treatment
Dr Cohen started her working life as a research scientist and lecturer with over 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications.
She followed a classical scientific career until she left mainstream science in 2000 (which coincided with the birth of her first daughter) to establish the Life Science Communications company, Euroscicon Ltd.
Euroscicon Ltd was her first company (which she sold in 2016).
In 2013 she was diagnosed with Cancer and set up Cancer Care Parcel
She also works with and establishes businesses and charities which benefit local, national and international communities via her company – The Pein Consultancy Ltd