Survivorship: You’re Not Alone

There’s no question about it: a cancer diagnosis completely changes your life.  Suddenly, you’re focused on doctor’s appointments, treatments, and surgeries.  You’ve researched statistics and the latest treatments.  And now, with five-year survivorship at an amazing 67%, your chances of survival are better than ever.

But after you’ve completed your treatment and you’re officially in remission, the world can seem unfamiliar.  Before, you had a purpose:  to successfully treat your cancer.  You had an entire team rallying behind you, and now, you might feel a little alone.  The question remains:  now what?  Here are some tips to help you stay connected to your community for help, guidance, and more.

  1. Talk to your doctors.  They’re there for a reason:  to ensure your treatment is successful, and to help you transition back into your daily life. Ask for any resources they may have to assist you, and when you visit for your check-up appointments, make a list of questions beforehand so you won’t forget anything.  You won’t be seeing your care team as often, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there for you.  Remember:  you aren’t alone!
  2. Understand it won’t be easy.  Your treatment is now behind you, and that’s great!  But you might still be facing some uncertainty about your diagnosis.  Is the cancer really gone?  What prevention activities can you practice now that you aren’t going through regular treatment?
  3. Reach out to your support network.  Let them know how you’re feeling.  They might assume that since you’re in remission everything will immediately return to normal.  It’s important to share your thoughts and feelings with a trusted friend or family member.
  4. Mentor a new patient.  Remember the feeling when you were first diagnosed?  Remember how uncertain you felt?  If you’re comfortable with the idea, search for volunteer programs that can help you stay connected to the cancer community—and help someone else through their cancer diagnosis.
  5. Join a support group or community.  Sometimes it can feel like no one will understand what you’re going through, but there are many people out there who have shared your experiences. Ask your doctor about any local support groups, or check for pamphlets next time you’re in the office.  If you don’t like attending the events in person, there are plenty of online options that don’t require you to stop in at a specific time.
  6. Talk to a therapist.  Ask for a referral to a therapist to talk through your new feelings.  Therapists can help you navigate unfamiliar territory.

Always remember you’re not alone.  You have an entire community to support you as you continue your journey as a cancer survivor.