It’s no surprise to anyone that a cancer diagnosis can stop you in your tracks, throwing your life into a completely different direction to the one you’d imagined for yourself mere days before your diagnosis.
Whilst the period of treatment can leave you feeling like you’re in a constant state of limbo; with life and future happiness all on hold as your health balances on the outcomes of treatment, there is hope for continued happiness, and it’s important to remember, you are not defined by your diagnosis.
Before we step into finding ways to find joy again after a cancer diagnosis and the ending of treatment, it’s important to acknowledge some of the feelings you may experience as you adjust to life post-cancer.
- You may feel both excited and anxious when treatment ends. You may need time to stop and reflect on what has happened before you can think about the future. Journaling is an excellent way to reflect upon how far you’ve come, and the incredible strength and courage you’ve had to make it through each day.
- You may feel a sense of loss or abandonment as you engage less with the treatment team, and support from family and friends becomes less intense. In this instance, don’t be afraid to reach out for help, from family, friends and your health care team.
- On the outside, you may look normal and healthy. But on the inside, you may still be recovering physically and emotionally. So, remember to take it easy, say no if you have to, and not to over commit yourself in a bid to please others.
- You may have thought you would just resume your life exactly where you left off before cancer. This can take longer than you expect. And that’s perfectly normal, don’t pressure yourself to do things you are not ready to do.
- Your family and friends may not fully understand what you’ve been through or realise that the cancer experience doesn’t stop when treatment ends. Work with them to explain this, how you’re feeling and what they can do to support you during this period of transition. Remember they love you; they may just not know how to support you.
- It may help to allow yourself time to adjust to your life after treatment. Ask your friends and family for their support and patience during this period.
Adjusting to this new sense of normal and moving through these emotions may take longer than anticipated, but it’s important to work through them and get the support you need in order to fully accept the journey and become the ‘new’ you.
And it’s perfectly alright to feel afraid of what the future holds, when you’ve been through so much. It’s both bitter and sweet at the same time. Speaking to the Pink Hope community of cancer survivors, below are a few tips that have worked for other incredible women in the community which may help you to rediscover yourself, and your joy, following cancer.
- Just embrace the new you! It’s OK if people don’t understand you or who you have become. You’re stronger now, and more amazing than ever before. You want people around you who lift you up, not drag you down.
- Change your lifestyle. Eat all the ice cream, skip that 6am gym class, but do those things in moderation so you can continue to reduce your risk of a reoccurrence, enjoying every single day in the healthiest way possible.
- Live a little! Do the things you always wanted to do but never had time for, take chances, travel, reconnect with old friends. Do what makes your heart happy.
- Take Each Day As It Comes. With the support of your healthcare team, don’t let the worry of future occurrence bring you down. Make a point to live in the moment and enjoy the life you have created with the support of those loved ones around you.
This article was sponsored by Astra Zeneca and developed independently by the team at Pink Hope in consultation with medical experts and members of the Pink Hope Community.