Thanks to earlier detection and improved treatments, there are now more than 15.5 million Americans who have lived with, through and beyond cancer.
After cancer treatment, many use the first few months to find their “new normal.”
“Most people that have had cancer find it hard to get back to normal,” said Megan Anderson, Cancer Care and Research survivorship coordinator with Marshfield Clinic Health System. “Often times we use the term ‘new normal’ to describe their new feelings.”
Concerns about the cancer coming back are often a part of this time.
Years after treatment, events like follow-up visits, new aches and pains or the anniversary of the diagnosis can trigger worries.
Although each person’s experience is unique, Anderson recommends these coping tips:
Knowledge is power and it can give you a greater sense of control. Use your energy to focus on wellness and what you can do now to stay as healthy as possible.
Discuss your fears
Share your concerns with friends, family, other cancer survivors, your medical provider or a counselor. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of discussing fears, try recording them in writing.
“Journaling can provide a great outlet for your fears and worries as you continue to live life after your treatments,” Anderson said.
Remain as active as you can
Getting out of the house or doing something to help others can help you relax, broaden your life perspective and focus on the positive.
Do not skip your follow-up appointments
You may fear the worst when it is time for a follow-up appointment, but do not let that stop you from going. Use the time with your provider to ask questions about any symptoms that worry you as well as what you should be watching for. Enable yourself to relax by knowing you are controlling all that you can control.
Be connected to hope
Dealing with the diverse emotional aspects of the survivorship journey is easier when you understand that you are not alone. Millions of people are walking the path.
“It is important to find people you can share your feelings with. Whether that is family, a support group or friends, it is helpful to have people standing beside you,” Anderson said.
For more information about survivorship services, talk to your cancer care team.