The end of treatment can be a time to look forward to the future. New rituals and new beginnings can bring a sense of relief and joy. It may also be a time of physical and emotional change.
Now that treatment is over, try to take time to get back in tune with yourself. Allow healing time for you and your family members and caregivers. Think about what you can do to begin living without cancer as a main focus.
Whether good or bad, life-changing situations often give people the chance to grow, learn, and appreciate what's important to them. Many people with cancer describe their experience as a journey.
Some have described survivorship as being "disease-free, but not free of your disease." What you experience with your body may be related to the type of cancer you had and the treatment you received. It's important to remember that no two people are alike, so you may experience changes that are very different from someone else's, even if that person had the same type of cancer and treatment.
You may find that you are still coping with the effects of treatment on your body. It can take time to get over these effects. You may wonder how your body should feel during this time and what are signs that cancer is coming back. Some of the most common problems that people report are:
- Memory and concentration changes
- Nervous system changes (neuropathy)
- Lymphedema, or swelling
- Mouth or teeth problems
- Changes in weight and eating habits
- Trouble swallowing
- Bladder or bowel control problems
- Menopause symptoms
It is important to discuss the following with your physician at your survivorship follow-up appointments:
- New symptoms
- Pain that troubles you
- Physical problems that get in the way of your daily life or that bother you, such as fatigues, trouble sleeping, sexual problems, or weight gain or loss
- Other health problems you have, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis
- Medicines, vitamins, or herbs you are taking and other treatments you are using
- Emotional problems, such as anxiety or depression, that you may have now or that you’ve had in the past
- Changes in your family’s medical history, such as relatives with cancer
- Things you want to know more about, such as new cancer research or side effects
(Excerpts taken from NCI’s Facing Forward Series Life After Cancer Treatment)
Services at the University of Colorado Hospital to help manage physical late effects from cancer treatment:
For more detailed information on physical side effects, please see:
Each person’s experience with cancer is different, and the feelings, emotions and fears that you may have are unique as well.
The values you grew up with may affect how you think and deal with cancer. Some people may feel they have to be strong and protect their friends and families. Others seek support from loved ones or other cancer survivors or turn to their faith to help them cope. Some find help from counselors and others outside the family, while others do not feel comfortable with this approach. Whatever you decide, it is important to do what’s right for you and not compare yourself to others.
Some common feelings that people have had after cancer treatment are:
- Fear that cancer will come back
- Feeling angry and alone
- Depression and anxiety
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Difficulties dealing with body image
Please visit our Patient Support Services section to learn of services provided at the University of Colorado Hospital to help you manage the emotional effects from cancer.
For more detailed information on coping with the emotional effects from cancer, please see:
The LIVESTRONG Foundation: Emotional Effects of Cancer
National Cancer Institute’s Facing Forward Series: Life After Cancer Treatment: Feelings
Survivorship issues sometimes affect other areas of life after cancer treatment. Support services can help you deal with physical, emotional and day-to-day issues such as:
- Difficulty on the job or in school
- Changes in relationships with loved ones, friends or coworkers
- Loss of self-esteem
- Concerns about body image changes
- Problems getting health or life insurance coverage
- Stressors related to financial issues
Services at the University of Colorado Hospital to help manage the practical concerns after cancer treatment is complete:
To learn more about our Cancer Resource Center, American Cancer Society Patient Navigator, and Social Work assistance, please visit our Support and Education page.
For more detailed information on coping with the practical concerns after cancer treatment, please see:
Cancer Care: Get Help
LIVESTRONG® One-on One Support and Practical Effects of Cancer
National Cancer Institute: Facing Forward Series: Life After Cancer Treatment: Social and Work Relationships
National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship: Cancer Toolbox
LIVESTRONG® Survivorship Center of Excellence
We believe in the survivorship definition that surviving cancer starts the day you or your loved one are diagnosed and continues through you or your loved ones treatment and beyond.
At the University of Colorado Cancer Center, we are dedicated to helping you on your journey. Our survivorship program is supported through the LIVESTRONG® Foundation and UCH is one the seven members of the LIVESTRONG® Survivorship Centers of Excellence.
Our survivorship program brings resources, support and information to cancer survivors in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region. The Cancer Survivorship Program consists of:
- Cancer survivorship clinics
- Cancer survivor resources and educational classes
- On-going cancer survivorship needs assessment
- Cancer survivor research and dissemination
For questions regarding the Cancer Survivorship Program, please contact (720) 848-0349 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TREATMENT SUMMARIES AND SURVIVORSHIP CARE PLANS
SURVIVORSHIP RESOURCES AND INFORMATION