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What is Normal After Cancer Treatment?
Congratulations on Finishing Your Cancer Treatment! Ending cancer treatment can be both exciting and challenging. Most people are
relieved to be finished with the demands of treatment, but many also feel
sadness and worry. Many are concerned about whether the cancer will come back
and what they should do after treatment.
When treatment ends, people often expect life to return to the way it was
before they were diagnosed with cancer. This rarely happens. You may have
permanent scars on your body, or you may not be able to do some things you once
did easily. Others may think of you--or you may view yourself--as being somehow
After you've finished your cancer treatment
This information designed mainly for cancer survivors who
have recently completed their cancer treatment, but you may find the information
helpful even if you were treated a long time ago. The purpose of this
information is to give cancer survivors and their loved ones a better idea of what to expect
during the first few months after treatment ends. It covers what may happen
Your medical care
Your mind and your feelings
Practical matters such as job and insurance issues
As you'll see,
this information talks about many concerns of those who have been through cancer
treatment and offers suggestions that have helped others move forward. As you
read, you may find yourself saying, "That's just how I feel."
Although this information describes issues that are important to many survivors,
each person has a unique response to having cancer. While some of the issues
covered may reflect your experience well, other issues may not
concern you. Focus on finding what works for you. The information is not intended to be all-inclusive. Resources are provided
at the end of the article if you need
more information on a given topic or one that is not included. We encourage you
to be active in getting the information and support you need.
It is natural for anyone who has finished cancer treatment to be concerned
about what the future holds. Many people worry about the way they look and feel
and about whether the cancer will come back. Others wonder what they can do to
keep cancer from coming back. Understanding what to expect after cancer
treatment can help survivors and their families plan for follow-up care, make
lifestyle changes, stay hopeful, and make important decisions.
All cancer survivors should have follow-up care. But you may have a lot of
questions about getting the care you need now, such as:
Whether to tell the doctor about symptoms that worry you
Which doctors to see
How often to see the doctor
What specific tests you need
you can do to relieve pain and other problems after treatment
How long it will
take for you to recover from treatment and feel more like yourself
these issues can be a challenge. Yet many say that getting involved in decisions
about their future medical care and lifestyle was a good way for them to regain
some of the control they felt they lost during cancer treatment. Research has
shown that people who feel more in control feel and function better than those
who do not. Being an active partner with your doctor and getting help from other
members of your health care team is the first step.
This next section offers some guidance on working with the people who provide care
after treatment. It describes the kinds of help you may need and provides tips
for getting what you want out of your medical visits. Reading this section can
also help you create a plan of action for your recovery and future health.