Your battle with cancer doesn’t end with your survival alone. Surviving is an amazing feat, but being a cancer survivor is another battle you must fight to get back on your feet.
Many cancer survivors have discovered some truths about life beyond the disease, and here are some of them:
Truth #1: Life is never the same after cancer
After your long, arduous battle against cancer, you feel eager to jump right back into your normal life. However, cancer survivors don’t really get to have their normal life back easily; they get a ‘new’ normal life instead. And there’s nothing wrong about it.
Soon, you’ll notice the changes in your life pre- and post-cancer. For instance, you’ll find your relationship with families and friends different now. Your family may become overprotective or you may feel as if they are no longer being supported. Some of your friends may become closer to you while others may keep themselves at a distance.
At work, you may feel treated differently compared to other employees who are not cancer survivors. You may also encounter co-workers who are willing to help but do not know how.
In these instances, you must understand that life is never the same for cancer survivors. There will be inevitable changes that come after cancer. What you can do is work through these changes and maintain open communication lines with the people around you.
Truth #2: You fear of cancer coming back
It is common among cancer survivors to fear recurrence. You worry with every ache and pain you feel, believing it is a sign of cancer returning. It causes you a lot of stress and trouble sleeping at night.
But don’t worry. Many cancer survivors went through that fear and surpassed it. Your fear of recurrence may not disappear completely, but it will eventually fade away as time goes by. You just have to be honest with your own feelings. Acknowledge the fear and don’t ignore it in hopes that it will go away just like that.
Consult your doctor on how to overcome this fear. Take care of your body and go to all your follow-up appointments and tests. Keeping yourself busy also helps you forget about your fear. While life after cancer brings such fear, it also gives you a sense of precious urgency that makes you cherish life even more.
Truth #3: It gets lonely and depressing at times
When the treatment is done, you might feel alone without your cancer care team. Now that you’re not seeing them, it makes you sad and anxious. It’s natural to feel that way since you’ve been with them during that crucial stage of your life.
Talking with your family and friends helps ease these feelings. But sometimes, you’d feel that those people don’t really understand what you’re going through since they never had cancer. In this case, consult a therapist or reach out to other cancer survivors.
Your doctor may refer you to a professional who can help you manage your emotions. A one-on-one session with a counselor can give you encouragement and help you cope with life after cancer.
You can also join support groups in your community or participate in online message boards. Attending a camp for cancer survivors, for instance, allows you to meet fellow survivors and enjoy outdoor activities with them.
For cancer survivors, life is never the same after the treatment ends. There will be significant changes in your life that will be your ‘new’ normal. There will be the constant fear and worry, and you’ll feel lonely and sad in your new journey at times.
However, knowing these truths allows you to move forward and embrace a new beginning. And more importantly, you’ll need these truths to reach out. You’ll need them to regain that support from other people, so you can surpass yet another journey: your life beyond cancer.