After your full course of chemotherapy has finished, your treatment team will give you general information about your recovery. They will recommend ways to manage side effects and who to call if you have any questions or concerns.
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You will have regular check-ups with your treating specialist. These will become less frequent over time. During these appointments, you will usually have a physical examination and you may have blood tests, x-rays or scans to confirm that the cancer hasn’t come back or spread. You will be able to discuss how you’re feeling and mention any concerns you may have.
You may also have regular check-ups with other specialists who have been involved in your treatment. Ask your treatment team whether you can space out these appointments. Let your doctor know immediately if you experience any health problems between follow-up appointments.
When a follow-up appointment or test is approaching, many people find that they think more about the cancer and may feel anxious. Talk to your treatment team or call Cancer Council 13 11 20 if you are finding it hard to manage this anxiety.
Coping with your emotions
For most people, the cancer experience doesn’t end on the last day of treatment. Life after cancer can present its own challenges. You may have mixed feelings when treatment ends, and worry that every ache and pain means the cancer is coming back.
Some people say that they feel pressure to return to ‘normal life’, but they don’t want life to return to how it was before cancer. Take some time to adjust to the physical and emotional changes, and re-establish a new daily routine at your own pace.
Cancer Council 13 11 20 can help you connect with other people who have had cancer, and provide you with information about the emotional and practical aspects of living well after cancer.
Dealing with feelings of sadness
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 after cancer treatment.
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. Ask your doctor if you are eligible. Your local Cancer Council may also run a counselling program.
The organisation beyondblue has information about coping with depression and anxiety. Go to beyondblue.org.au or call 1300 22 4636 to order a fact sheet.