Survivorship and Cancer
While the initial diagnosis of cancer was probably an overwhelming experience, many people describe the period after completion of treatment as an anxious and uncertain time, and describe feelings of ‘abandonment’. This may be related to the sudden withdrawal of regular contact with your care providers, which has been the one secure constant throughout treatment.
Many survivors have difficulty adjusting during this phase a as they try to resume their previous roles and responsibilities. There is often an expectation by your family and friends that, because your treatment is finished, you should be back to normal. This is often not the case. You may feel different after treatment; you may have physical or emotional scars; and you may be trying to make sense of what has happened.
This transition period from active treatment to post-treatment is considered by health professionals as being critical to long-term health. It is a period where health care providers and community support services can provide information, education and support in order to promote better long-term psychological and physical adjustment.
What does it mean to be a cancer survivor and what psychological, social, physical and spiritual impacts of cancer continue to affect cancer survivors’ quality of life?
- Fear of recurrence
- Heightened sense of vulnerability
- Depression or loneliness
- Concerns about burdening loved ones
- Uncertainty about the future
- Relationship concerns
- Coping with the behaviours of others
- Lacking confidence
- Re-entering the workforce
- Post-treatment changes
- Late effects of cancer
- Sexual dysfunction
- Managing everyday routines and responsibilities
- Adjusting to a new ‘normal’
- Changes to self-identity
- Existential crisis
Connecting with your health professionals about your concerns ‘post’ treatment can ensure you have a smoother transition back to the ‘new’ normal.