Transitioning from cancer treatment

June 2, 2024 Word for Word Media 0Comment

Gabriella Kourie offers simple ways to make transitioning from cancer treatment to your new normal that much gentler.

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Many cancer survivors have reported that although they had good information and support during their illness, once treatment stops and they enter into their new world, there are many questions that come with anxiety and navigating more unknowns.

Tips to keep in mind when coming out of active treatment

Have open and honest conversations with the people around you

It’s difficult for loved ones, friends and colleagues to understand what you have gone through and there is the expectation that you should be ‘normal’ after treatment. Unless having experienced treatment themselves or with someone close to them, they will not have insight to the fact that your body is still processing side effects and latent effects of your treatments. Like any advice for functional relationships, communication is important. Tell the people in your life what you are struggling with and ask them for their patience and continued support as you continue to heal.

Give yourself time

We are our own harshest critics and the most expectations come from within. As you ask those around you to be patient, be patient and gentle with yourself too. The physical, emotional and psychosocial healing after cancer treatment is better measured in months and years as opposed to weeks and days. Be proud of the small achievements you make. Every small change you feel, whether its improved range of motion or less anxiety when going for blood tests and scans is a step towards healing.

Be consistent with your follow-up care and appointments

Ongoing monitoring ensures that you stay on top of your health. You become more aware of your body and if something is bothering you then it’s important to see to it sooner rather than later. Seeing to your health and going for regular check-ups keeps you in control of monitoring your body and health. Although these check-ups may induce anxiety or serve as a reminder of what you have been through, they are there for a reason. Make sure you are comfortable contacting your doctors with regards to both cancer-related and non-cancer-related health concerns.

Find ways to manage any lasting physical side effects, particularly fatigue

Cancer treatments can often leave patients with long-term fatigue. Finding the energy to perform simple tasks may be frustrating and can trigger many emotions. Eating healthy and performing meaningful, fulfilling physical activities and exercises can help you feel better after treatment as well as eliminate the feeling of fatigue.

Prioritise your mental and emotional health

Your mindset and outlook on life after you have completed treatment is important. You may be feeling a mixture of relief, anxiety and even sadness in the survivorship phase. Finding a healthy and supportive environment to speak about your experience is vital in healing and it helps to unite people in that you are not alone in your experiences. Journaling has also been a helpful method for many to heal and process their treatment in words.

Don’t let your fears stop you from living in the moment

Fear of recurrence is so natural after having completed initial treatment and it’s sometimes a reality for some cancer survivors. Focusing on the here and now and enjoying the day, week or company that you are in can help ground you and stop the mind from wondering to the depths of what if?

Embrace the people and places that matter the most to you. Find the things in your life that bring meaning and fulfilment to your everyday activities. It may be spending time with loved ones, taking a walk or getting to a list of tasks you have been putting off for a while but form the habit of looking for the joy in everything that you do, until that becomes your new normal.

Gabriella Kourie

MEET THE EXPERT – Gabriella Kourie

Gabriella Kourie is a qualified occupational therapist. She further trained and qualified as a PORi oncology and breast cancer rehabilitation therapist and is currently qualifying in Lymphoedema Assessment and Treatment.

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