Family life after treatment

Celebrate the end of cancer treatment, and acknowledge that it has been a difficult period for everyone; this is particularly important for teenagers. Encourage kids to have fun. They have lived with worry for months and may need your permission to relax again.

Let the family know how you’re feeling emotionally and physically so they understand if you’re not bouncing back as quickly as they expected. It may be helpful to let the family know that treatment effects are likely to last for a while after treatment finishes. Keep using the emotions thermometer if you have one. Be open about your fears, such as if you’re feeling anxious before a check-up. This may encourage your kids to talk about their own fears.

Do things at your own pace, and avoid any pressure to return to “normal” activities. You may want to ask yourself: Am I doing what fulfils me? Am I doing what I want to do? What is important to me? Explain any changes to the family’s lifestyle and negotiate where possible. During your recovery, you may be able to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes into family life or activities – for example, you could do light exercise together, or make healthy changes to the kids’ diets as well as your own.

Focus on each day, and expect good days and bad days – for both the adults and the children in the family.

Survivorship

If you are a parent who has finished cancer treatment, you may want to focus your attention on your children, but it is important to look after your own wellbeing. These strategies can help:

  • Consider joining a support group. Many cancer survivors join a group to meet people who understand what they have been through and how they’re feeling. Talking with other survivors can help you cope and will therefore benefit your kids. 
  • Read cancer survivors’ stories. Learning how other people have made meaning of a cancer diagnosis may help.
  • Take part in a survivors’ event or attend a survivorship program, such as Healthy Living After Cancer, if there is one in your area. To find out what is available, contact Cancer Council 13 11 20.
  • Find out about Cancer Council’s Cancer Connect program by calling 13 11 20. They may be able to put you in touch with someone else who has had cancer treatment.

Listen to our podcasts on Explaining Cancer to Kids and Family Dynamics and Cancer


This information was last reviewed in December 2018
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