Finding a “new normal”
Having cancer is often described as an experience that starts at diagnosis. During treatment, some people feel that their life is on hold or in limbo.
When treatment ends, you may want life to return to normal as soon as possible, but you may not know how. Or you may want or need to make changes to your life. Over time, survivors often find a new way of living. This process is commonly called finding a new normal and it may take months or years.
Learn more about:
- Adjusting to the new normal
- How cancer can be a life-changing experience
- Myths about the end of treatment
- Finding a new way of living
- You may feel both excited and anxious when treatment ends. You may need time to stop and reflect on what has happened before you can think about the future.
- You may feel a sense of loss or abandonment as you engage less with the treatment team, and support from family and friends becomes less intense.
- On the outside, you may look normal and healthy. But on the inside you may still be recovering physically and emotionally.
- You may have thought you would just resume your life exactly where you left off before cancer. This can take longer than you expect.
- Your family and friends may not fully understand what you’ve been through, or realise that the cancer experience doesn’t stop when treatment ends.
- It may help to allow yourself time to adjust to your life after treatment. Ask your friends and family for their support and patience during this period.
Dr Haryana Dhillon, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Medical Psychology & Evidence-based Decision-making, School of Psychology, University of Sydney, NSW; Polly Baldwin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Jessica Barbon, Dietitian, Southern Adelaide Health Network, SA; Dr Anna Burger, Liaison Psychiatrist and Senior Staff Specialist, Psycho-oncology Clinic, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, ACT; Elizabeth Dillon, Social Worker, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Prof Paul Glare, Chair in Pain Medicineand Director, Pain Management Research Institute, University of Sydney, NSW; Nico le Kinnane, Nurse Coordinator, Gynaecology Services, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Amanda Piper, Manager, Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Kyle Smith, Exercise Medicine Research Institute, Edith Cowan University, WA; Aaron Tan, Consumer; Dr Kate Webber, Medical Oncologist and Research Director, National Centre for Cancer Survivorship, NSW. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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The information on this page is also available for download.
Life after cancer treatment
Programs and support for people who have finished treatment
Cancer Council Online Community
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ENRICH – a free healthy lifestyle program
A face-to-face exercise and nutrition program for cancer survivors