Many people are surprised by the mixed feelings they have once their treatment finishes. It’s common to feel a range of conflicting emotions – both good and bad. However, it’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel – just as there is no one right way to cope. Many people say that having cancer changes them. Sometimes it takes time to find a ‘new normal’. It’s important to give yourself time to adjust.
To help make things a little easier for you we have compiled some of the common feelings people have once they have finished treatment below.
Sadness or depression
It’s common to feel sad or down some days – this is often linked to fatigue after cancer treatment. However, if you are in a low mood or have lost interest and pleasure in most things for more than two weeks, you may have depression.
Fear that the cancer may return
It can be hard to separate normal aches and pains and the after-effects of treatments from worrying the cancer has come back. This is a very common concern for many people who have had cancer.
Some people say they feel less confident and more vulnerable after they have had cancer. Often your body and way of thinking have changed after having cancer and it can take time to adjust.
It’s not unusual to feel anxious or hesitant about planning for the future. This anxiety might be higher just before check-ups, on anniversaries of the cancer being diagnosed, or when you see something about cancer on television for example.
Feeling a sense of loneliness
Now that you no longer have regular appointments and your friends and family might be unsure how to offer you the help you need you may feel a sense of abandonment or loneliness.
Tips for mental wellbeing
• Take care of yourself by eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water
• Set small goals that you can achieve. Don’t expect too much from yourself
• Get regular exercise. Studies have shown that being active helps lift a person’s mood and gives you energy. Our healthy living after cancer program can help you get back to a healthy lifestyle
• Share your feelings with someone close to you - this may help you feel less alone. It may also be helpful to share your feelings with others going through a similar situation. We can help connect you with these people through our cancer support groups
• Go out and do something you enjoy. Doing something different can often make you feel better. It can be something as simple as spending some time outside in the fresh air.
• Think about what’s important to you and try not to judge yourself too harshly
• List activities you used to enjoy and plan to do one of these activities each day
• Write down how you’re feeling or express yourself in painting, drawing, music or singing
• Try massage, yoga, hypnosis, acupuncture or reflexology. We offer a range of free classes through our Life Now program
For more detailed information about recovering after treatment, take a look at our ‘on the road to recovery’ information booklet. Remember, you’re not alone on this road to recovery. If you have any concerns about your health and wellbeing after having treatment for cancer, speak with your local doctor, specialist or give our cancer care nurses a call on 13 11 20.