Tips to adapt to life after cancer

Some patients find that adjusting to a “new normal” after treatment can be challenging

The end of cancer treatment is often a time to rejoice. Patients are relieved to be finished with the demands of treatment and are looking forward to putting the experience behind them. When the treatment ends it can still take time for patients to recover. They may have permanent body scars, and many patients are not able to do some of the things that they easily did in their “pre-cancer” life.

However, even though their treatments are “over”, many patients continue to feel sad and worried. They are focused on concerns about whether the cancer will come back. Emotional scars from going through so much trauma are common. Cancer patients many times view themselves “differently” and think that friends and family members also look at them in a new way.

Here are some tips that cancer patients may find helpful in dealing with the “new normal”:
1. Get good follow-up care from your physicians
2. Ask for help developing a wellness plan that includes ways to take care of your physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs.
3. Consider complementary/alternative medicine to prevent illness, reduce stress, or prevent or reduce side effects and symptoms.
4. Some patients find that couples counseling, faith or spiritual counseling or family support programs are helpful.
5. State and local governments offer many services that include home care services that help with housework or cooking.
6. Strength-building exercises can help you feel better and can improve mood.
7. Exercise of all types can help people reduce stress and feel less tense and happier.
8. Cancer support groups can help you share feelings and concern and can reduce the feelings of loneliness.

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