I have finished my cancer treatment

Living with cancer

Once the initial treatment for your cancer is over, you may feel like you want to get your life right ‘back on track’ but are still affected by physical side-effects or the psychological impact of what has happened. It can often be a case of getting back to ‘a new normal’ and this may take longer than you expect. Whilst it is important to start to adjust to this, it is also important to know that your healthcare team are still there to support you in the time ahead.

Completing initial treatment may be the end of your personal treatment for cancer, for other people it may be on-going for a number of years – for example a hormone therapy. For others the end of treatment may mean that there are no other treatment options available and end of life conversations may be occurring. Whatever your circumstances this may be a time of significant psychological adjustment. It is not uncommon for people to experience mixed feelings, uncertainty and anxiety at this time. 

There are things you can do to help you through this time; for example, there are usually local support groups, help lines and websites, self-help books and of course local and national services there to help you and your family adjust to life after cancer treatment. It’s good to try to be kind to yourself, be patient and flexible with things. Gradually you may begin to gain a little more control and start to see things in a more positive way.

The frequency with which you will see your clinical team during this time is very personal. Some people start with more frequent check-ups and gradually this will become less often as time goes by. Sometimes your follow-up may be with the hospital team, sometimes it may be a phone call from your specialist nurse or be occasional appointments with your own G.P. locally. Recognising any changes in your own well-being is important and knowing what to do if you notice any changes is too.

Coping with anxiety

One of the most common worries for people after treatment is the anxiety of cancer coming back. You are not alone feeling like this, it is a natural concern for most people who have been given a cancer diagnosis. If this starts to become a problem for you please talk to someone you trust about it. There are no right and wrong ways to handle this anxiety, given time you will likely find you own way to deal with it. If you think you may be caught up in a ‘cycle of worry’ you may need additional support to help you through this time.

Having a renewed sense of purpose may help during this time. For some people developing new relationships, trying new (or perhaps neglected) sports or activities may help, for others it may be more about finding a way to manage your thoughts and feelings – you may wish to try talking therapies or using other techniques such as Mindfullness or creative therapies.

If you have symptoms or changes in your body that concern you it is probably a good idea to get them checked out with your G.P.

Health and wellbeing days

Health and Wellbeing days are hosted throughout the year in York, Selby and Scarborough. At these days there are a team of professionals who can talk to you about making the most of living with cancer. Sessions include nutrition, sexual relationships, diet and exercise as well as access to support groups who can help you and introduce you to other people who have been through the same experience.

To find out more about attending one of the Health and Wellbeing days, please contact the Cancer Care Centre at York Hospital.