Life after treatment

Life after cancer treatment can present its own challenges. You may need to take some time to adjust to any physical and emotional changes.

You may have mixed emotions. Beforehand, you may have been busy with appointments and focused on treatment, but afterwards you may feel anxious or vulnerable. You might worry about every ache and pain and wonder if the cancer is coming back.

Although you might feel pressure to return to normal life, you may find that you don’t want your life to return to how it was before cancer.

You might find it helpful to:

  • take time to adjust to physical and emotional changes
  • re-establish a new daily routine at your own pace
  • spend time on a leisure activity you enjoy
  • maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle
  • schedule regular check-ups with your doctor
  • share your concerns with family and friends and tell them how they can support you.

Call Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 to connect with other people who have had cancer, or to request free information about life after cancer and any specific information you may require, for example, workplace rights.

If you have continued feelings of sadness, have trouble getting up in the morning or have lost motivation to do things that previously gave you pleasure, you may be experiencing depression. This is quite common among people who have had cancer.

Talk to your GP, as counselling or medication – even for a short time – may help. Some people are able to get a Medicare rebate for sessions with a psychologist or an accredited counsellor. Ask your doctor if you are eligible. Your cancer care centre may have a psychologist on site. Your local Cancer Council may provide access to a counselling program.

The organisation beyondblue has information about coping with depression and anxiety. Go to www.beyondblue.org.au or call 1300 224 636 to order a fact sheet.

This information was last reviewed in April 2013

This information has been reviewed by: Dr Lisbeth Lane, Senior Clinical Psychologist, University of Wollongong, Wollongong Hospital, NSW; Kim Hobbs, Social Worker, Gynaecological Oncology, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Dr Megan Best, Palliative Care Physician, Greenwich Hospital, NSW; Deborah Ball, Coordinator of Direct Support Services, Cancer Council SA; Sandy Hutchison, Executive Manager, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council QLD; Jill Adams, RN, Helpline, Cancer Council WA; and Ksenia Savin, Cancer Connect Volunteer and Consumer, QLD.

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