Disease Information & Support


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Life After Diagnosis and Treatment

The cancer experience doesn't end when treatment ends. No one forgets that he, she or a loved one once had cancer. After remission, you may still feel anxiety about your health and fear that the cancer may return. This is especially true when you:

  • feel symptoms, even when they turn out to be those of the common cold
  • need follow-up visits
  • return to your doctor's office or the hospital - places where your most frightening memories may be
  • reach a five- or 10-year anniversary of being diagnosed or being in remission

Physical and Emotional Adjustments

You may feel elated when your cancer treatment ends. Some people may expect to return to feeling normal very quickly. However, many people may find that this feeling doesn't last. This is a normal reaction. Don't put pressure on yourself - or let others put pressure on you - to be upbeat and positive. It may take some time for you to heal physically after treatment, and until that happens, you may not be able to heal emotionally.

Many survivors progress to a "new normal." The experience of cancer may affect your perceptions of yourself and the world. You may feel a sense of vulnerability that you never had before you were diagnosed. Adjusting emotionally is a process that takes time. Expect ups and downs. But you may also find that, in some ways, the new normal is more rewarding and gratifying than the old normal.

Cancer survivors say they're sometimes afraid. But they feel less afraid when they focus on things other than their illness. They also share a peace that few other people know. Survivors can often enjoy the many ordinary moments that most people ignore. Cancer survivors often say that different things are important to them now. Others say they feel able to handle anything life brings.

Important Guidelines for Survivors

  • Survivors need physical examinations yearly or more often.
  • Regular examinations include cancer screening and screening for long-term and late effects of treatment.
  • Survivors don't necessarily need a cancer specialist for routine checkups and screening, but they do need to see doctors who understand their previous treatment and its risks. Specialists and primary care doctors can work as a team to provide the best care.
  • Survivorship programs, focusing on life after cancer, are offered at several major hospitals around the country.

Resources for Survivors

Resources for cancer patients and survivors include:

See Other Helpful Organizations for more resources.

last updated on Thursday, May 08, 2014

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