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Survivorship for Your Brain and Body
The survivorship stage of your journey occurs when you’ve finally reached the end of treatment, and you’re ready to focus on life post-cancer. Maybe you’ve had a successful surgery. Perhaps your chemotherapy or radiation treatments are finally over. Maybe you’ve even done all three. Whatever the case, you’re finally through with cancer treatment, and ready to go on with your life. But that doesn’t mean your health shouldn’t still be front and center.
- Chances are you paid a lot of attention to your physical self during treatment—and that shouldn’t change after you’ve graduated from therapy. Just like you monitored yourself for any potential issues while you were going through treatment, you should monitor yourself now for any late side effects so the doctor can treat you immediately. Make notes of any changes and bring them up with your care team.
- If you’re feeling up to it, it’s a great time to start thinking about physical activity. Before beginning an exercise program, talk to your doctor to make sure exercise is appropriate for you.
- Practice healthy eating! This is great advice for any point in your life, but especially after cancer treatment. Some studies have even shown that eating more vegetables may influence both survival and recurrence.
- It sounds simple, but once you’re feeling better it can be tempting to put your doctor’s advice aside. Don’t! Follow instructions carefully when it comes to medicine and other care practices.
- You’re finished with treatment, and that’s great! You might be tempted to rush back into your regular activities, but reacclimate at your own pace. Your mental (and physical) health will thank you.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for a referral to a therapist. You faced cancer head on and came out on top—and such a battle can leave both physical and emotional scars. Talk to a mental health professional about any feelings you may have, and make sure to loop your cancer care team in too.
- Seek support. If you aren’t comfortable talking to a therapist, or just need an extra set of empathetic ears, find a family member or close friend. Many doctors can recommend support groups that meet regularly where you can share thoughts and experiences with other members.
- Don’t give up! There are many different therapies to address the mental health challenges you may experience. Keep your care team in the loop so they can make sure your concerns are being addressed quickly.
Remember, even though you may not have as many appointments, your doctors and your care team are still there for you to answer your questions and to act as guides on your journey.