"While I was having chemo, I quit doing almost everything. So when treatment ended, the challenge for me was, what am I going to do now with my life? What should I go back to doing?"
Many cancer survivors have told us that while they felt they had lots of information and support during their illness, once treatment stopped, they entered a whole new world - one filled with new questions. This booklet was written to share common feelings and reactions that many people just like you have had after treatment ended.
It also offers some practical tips to help you through this time. Use this booklet in whatever way works best for you. You can read it from beginning to end. Or you can just refer to the section you need.
Who is a survivor?
This booklet uses the term "cancer survivor" to include anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, from the time of diagnosis through the rest of his or her life. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also part of the survivorship experience.
You may not like the word, or you may feel that it does not apply to you, but the word "survivor" helps many people think about embracing their lives beyond their illness.
This booklet shares what we have learned from other survivors about life after cancer: practical ways of dealing with common problems and guidelines for managing your physical, social, and emotional health. When possible, we include specific information from research with cancer survivors.
While cancer is a major event for all who are diagnosed, it brings with it the chance for growth. As hard as treatment can be, many cancer survivors have told us that the experience led them to make important changes in their lives. Many say they now take time to appreciate each new day. They also have learned how to take better care of themselves and value how others care for them. Others draw from their experience to become advocates to improve cancer research, treatment, and care.
We hope that this booklet will serve as a resource and inspiration to you as you face forward to your life after cancer.
For ease of reading, rather than listing the many professionals that you may see as part of your medical care, you'll find the term "doctor" used in the booklet to describe all medical interactions.