In the US, June is National Cancer Survivor Month, and it’s a time for raising awareness about what people have gone through to survive the deadliest disease we have. Anyone who has fought against cancer has undoubtedly had their whole life disrupted by ongoing treatment. There is a never-ending round of doctor appointments, radiation, chemotherapy treatments, and constant check-ups on the progress of treatment. Your life is literally not your own when you’re obliged to undergo cancer treatment, and that’s understandable because quite often battling cancer is literally a life-or-death prospect. If you do survive the whirlwind though, you may find yourself facing the difficult question of what comes next. Maybe you didn’t even expect to make it out of the battle alive, and now you’re faced with how to manage the rest of your life. This article will offer some recommendations on how to best use the time you’ve been given after your successful battle with a life-threatening disease.
Getting back to normal
Restoring a sense of normalcy in your life is often harder than it would seem, especially in the first year after treatment. Doctors have probably told you that it will take a year or so for all the impacts of treatment to make themselves known, and this is very true. Long after treatments have ended, you will probably be noticing subtle changes in your body that were not there before cancer was discovered. For patients whose cancer was physically located anywhere in the area of the face, neck, or head, you might notice that you’ve lost your sense of taste or that you are constantly troubled by dry mouth. Regardless of the physical location of your cancer, there are likely to be new developments all throughout the year following treatment. You’ll need to report these changes to your doctors and adapt to them with medication and other forms of treatment. This will be a primary course of action to restore normalcy to your life.
Develop a plan for the future
Your doctors will have no trouble compiling a plan for any follow-up care that you might need, as well as any lifestyle modifications that may be necessary or helpful for you. This plan should simplify any medical care that’s necessary for the future and can actually help to improve your quality of life in the coming years. It will also be educational for you in the sense that you’ll have an understanding of how to manage your own health. You’ll be empowered to take charge of your diet, handle side effects that may be manifested, and identify any symptoms of recurrence. This will give you greater confidence in your ability to have a productive and satisfying future life.
Seek a support group
Even though you’ve physically survived cancer, you may have emerged with some level of emotional scarring or fright about what you just went through. In these cases, it can help a great deal to communicate with other cancer survivors who have similar stories to tell. The emotional, social, and psychological issues attendant upon cancer battles can be overwhelming at times, and it may be more than you can handle all by yourself. Every community has a cancer survivor group that you can participate in, and it will help a great deal to share your story with other members. It can work wonders in normalizing your life and preventing you from slipping into isolation. Instead, it may give you increased hope and optimism for the future.
Manage stress effectively
There’s no question that going through the struggle with cancer can have an enormous impact on you physically, emotionally, and mentally. It will definitely be to your advantage to find ways of reducing stress in the years that follow your treatment. Regular exercise can be one of the best ways of managing any stress you feel, and it also causes the release of ‘feel-good’ hormones called endorphins in the body. That can have a very positive effect on your ongoing mental attitude because it can replace anxiety and negative feelings with other more positive feelings and a sense of well-being. You might also want to engage in other de-stressing activities such as yoga or meditation. These activities emphasize focusing on the inner self, rather than all the external manifestations that occur in daily life. If you have any kind of annoying symptoms in the aftermath of cancer treatment, this will be a way to forget about them and instead, consider your overall well-being and personal health.
Face the future
At some point during cancer treatment, most people consider the possibility that they won’t survive and are facing the end. It may then come as something of a surprise or shock when you end up beating the disease and actually having some kind of future to contemplate. You should consider the fact that you’ve been given an enormous opportunity to change or improve on your past way of life. If there were things you didn’t like about yourself before cancer, take this opportunity to change them and make yourself a better person. Reach out to those you truly care about, spend time with your favorite friends and acquaintances, and whenever possible, engage in more of the activities you find most enjoyable in life. Use the cancer as a wake-up call, and make the very most of the time you have left on earth.