Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Life After Cancer: Getting Back On Track!

In many ways it is sometimes harder for people with cancer to get over the treatment than it is to get through the treatment. Patients are so busy going to appointments, researching, learning, doing what it takes to fight the cancer, that it is easy to avoid the dealing with the emotional side of the diagnosis. Once treatments are complete, there are no more daily,  weekly or monthly  trips to the  cancer center where doctors and nurses fuss over you.

Friends and family stop fussing over you too. You might  find that you suddenly have more time on our hands and when you have more time, you have more time to think and, of course, to worry.  Depending on the type and stage of your cancer and the treatment you received you will probably feel some of the side effects of  radio-active iodine, chemotherapy and/or radiation weeks after your treatments were over which might make you a little depressed.

Depression is one of those things that can sneak up on you. But if you know there is a chance that it might happen, it makes it easier to manage. Just know it all gets better with time, and you will feel and look like your old self again. Your energy will come back and if you lost some or all of you hair will grow back too! It helps to keep your support team around so make sure to let them know how you feel – emotionally and physically.

There are also wonderful oncology social workers at cancer centers and local advocacy organizations to share your feelings. Many offer group support and one-on-one counseling. Take advantage of them! If you live outside of a city or just don’t feel like leaving  your home, there are many wonderful and safe online chat-rooms where you can find patients or caregivers with similar concerns and fears. Go to the recommended  advocacy group’s Web site for your cancer or tumor type and you will find the help you need. Knowing you are not alone and that others feel the same way really helps!

Be good to yourself and allow yourself time to heal. Rest, eat well and exercise. Take yourself on a much-needed vacation or a stay-at-home vacation. You deserve it! Give a charity your time or offer them support by sharing your personal cancer experience with others who might find your story inspiring. It feels great to help others!

Since the minute you found out you have cancer, your  every waking moment and entire life has most likely been about fighting your disease. It’s time to move on and get involved with new activities or reunite with friends you may not have felt up to seeing when you were having your treatments. Stay positive and enjoy each day as it comes. Many patients feel that their cancer taught them to appreciate what they have, and gave them the courage to clear the negative elements out of their lives – including bad relationships, bad jobs and clutter in our homes.

Cancer can give people the strength to take on new challenges. Once you have battled cancer, you can takeon anything. So do something positive for yourself, for your loved ones and perhaps for a charity. If you ever thought about getting a pet, maybe now is the time to do it. There is nothing more healing than the love of a pet. If you do decide to do this, think about adopting an older pet from the ASPCA or some other animal  shelter. You’ll be giving a pet a loving home, and an older pet won’t wear you out the way a puppy or kitten might. Make sure you are feeling physically able to.

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