Whatever may be your recovery journey, you and your family probably now have a new set of concerns about what life will be like post-treatment and how you will deal with the changes. Here are some things to consider:
People often don’t think about recovery and moving forward during their treatment. This is normal since very often patients and families live in ‘survival mode’ and are focusing on the present rather than the future. It is often the case that people only start to think about moving forward after the acute phase of the treatment is done.
Don’t think in terms of ‘getting back to normal’, as you and your family have forever been changed by your experience. Think about getting to know the new you, and discover your ‘new normal’. Many patients and their families come away from treatment with a new lease on life and an entirely new perspective about what they consider to be important.
Please do not assume that ‘recovery’ simply means recovery from your physical treatment. You are healing physically but you are also healing emotionally. Dealing with a life-threatening illness is not only a physical journey, but an emotional and spiritual one as well. You must work on your emotional and spiritual well-being to truly promote your recovery. Very often this process only starts after your have physically recovered from your treatment.
Sometimes patients feel that others don’t understand that even though the treatment is ended, the journey is not over for you. Don’t feel pressure from your (well-meaning) family and friends. Trust in yourself. We can always connect you to a peer mentor who will truly understand.
It is normal to think about the possibility of relapse. All of our patients do. However, as your treatment becomes more and more a thing of the past, these feelings usually diminish. Talk about your feelings with your BMT social worker or peer mentor.
It is extremely important to reintegrate things you like to do back into your life both during and after treatment, in order to enhance your quality of life as much as possible. Some of those more familiar activities will bring you great comfort.
Each person deals with issues differently and each person’s outcome is completely unpredictable. Issues that can arise can be as varied as managing relationships through illness, physical changes from appearances to actual disabilities, and financial problems. The key to negotiating all of these feelings is communication. Talk to the people in your life about how you are feeling.
Hope is being honest with yourself about your situation, while still looking forward to positive outcomes in your future. Hope may not be easy to find. The changes that come with cancer can be overwhelming and cause a great deal of uncertainty. There may be fear of relapse. Hope can help you find the strength and courage to face these.
You may find hope by talking to other survivors, sharing your experience, looking forward to events like a child’s graduation or a gathering with friends, taking up new hobbies, focusing on your spirituality or religion, or simply knowing that you have come a long way. Survivors usually combine many approaches to find hope.