9th April 17:29
Living beyond a cancer diagnosis: Finding your "new normal" (very long) (cancer stress exercise)
Living beyond a cancer diagnosis: Finding your "new normal"
You have prepared yourself, made informed decisions, and actively
participated in your treatment. As your treatment nears its end, you may
experience many feelings, just as you did when you were informed of your
cancer diagnosis. You are not alone. There are nearly 8.9 million cancer
survivors in the United States. As your last treatment is completed, you
may expect that things will suddenly return to normal and you may go
back to your life as you knew it before you were diagnosed with cancer.
You may discover, as many cancer survivors do, that you need to
establish a "new normal."
Of course you would like your daily routine to return to the way it was
before your illness, but you may find that you are more likely to have a
new set of expectations and priorities as a result of your cancer, its
treatment, and redefining your life after diagnosis. Consider the
following tips from the American Cancer Society.
Be kind to yourself. Focus on what you can do.
Reach out to others. Reaching out to someone else can reduce stress.
Don't be afraid to say no. Polite but firm refusals help you stay in
control of your life.
Talk about your concerns.
Learn to pace yourself. Stop before you get tired.
Give in sometimes. Not every argument is worth winning.
Get enough exercise. It's a great way to get rid of tension in a
Take time for activities you enjoy.
Set priorities. You can't do everything at once.
Take one thing at a time. If you're feeling overwhelmed, divide your
list into manageable pieces.
Having a plan can reduce the stress of the problem.
Get enough sleep.
As a cancer survivor, you may be introduced to a whole new set of
concerns such as fear of cancer recurrence, body image changes, issues
related to ***uality and spirituality, and insurance, financial, and
work-related concerns. Some cancer survivors report feeling guilty that
they made it through their cancer treatment while others they have met
in their journey have not.
What people commonly fear most is the unknown. Share your fears with
your health care team, your family, and your friends. Knowledge is
powerful. Once you have identified your fears, accurate information can
help to reduce them.
A major concern for cancer survivors is that their cancer will return.
As your cancer treatment comes to an end and the time for your checkup
approaches, or as the anniversary date of your cancer diagnosis nears,
you may feel anxious. Be sure to ask your doctor what symptoms you
should watch for and immediately report anything unusual. Whether you
are still being monitored by your oncologist or have been referred back
to your family doctor, follow their advice and continue to get regular
Your physical appearance may have changed as a result of your cancer or
its treatment. Although these physical changes may be hard to accept at
times, it is important for you to try to accept these changes as part of
your "new normal". You may want to consider seeking the assistance of a
therapist, another cancer survivor, or a loved one to help you adapt to
these changes. In some cases, your health care team may be able to tell
you about things that can be done to help your particular situation.
If you experience ***ual difficulties as a result of your cancer
treatment, discuss this with your health care team. You do not have to
give up intimacy and affection during cancer therapy. Communication with
your significant other is extremely important during this time.
Providing each other with love, support, and comfort is important at
this time in your life.
Many people find comfort in spiritual inspiration. Some turn to prayer
or to a house of worship, while others turn to nature or the arts (such
as painting, writing, or music) or meditative exercise (such as yoga).
The form of expression you use is very personal and unique, and whatever
form of expression you choose, you may find an inner strength to help
you through this difficult time.
Nearly 80% of people diagnosed with cancer return to work. If this is a
possibility for you, consider communicating your wants and needs with
your employer or others who are directly affected by this change in your
life. Maintaining honest, open communication can be healing. Many
resources are available to help you through this time, including those
listed in the Education and support section.
Despite the many advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment in the last
decade, some people will not survive their cancer diagnosis. If it
appears that despite treatment, your cancer has advanced or you have
chosen comfort care over treatment, you may be eligible for hospice
care. Hospice focuses on providing physical, emotional, and spiritual
support to patients and families of patients who are near the end of
life. The goal of hospice is to help you live and to help make the end
of life as comfortable as possible. Hospice can help your family care
for you at home if that is what you and your family decide upon. Hospice
offers respite care so that your caregivers can have occasional time
off. Both inpatient and outpatient services may be available on a
24-hour basis. Hospice care is usually a team approach with doctors,
nurses, pharmacists, social workers, home health care aides, and the
Find your focus. Build a network. Embrace the future.
You may have read all of the topics in this discussion, or you may have
chosen to focus only on the parts that were important to you. Your
journey may not be a continuous progression and you may have to make
several decisions at once, or you may have to re-evaluate and adjust
your decisions. The network of support that you have developed may have
long-lasting effects. The people you have met along the way, friendships
you may have developed, and connections with your family and friends are
all a part of your future. Embrace the future.