Life after treatment
For most people, the cancer experience doesn’t end on the last day of treatment. Life after cancer treatment 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”. It is important to allow yourself time to adjust to the physical and emotional changes, and establish a new daily routine at your own pace. Your family and friends may also need time to adjust.
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. For more on this, see Living well after cancer.
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Whether or not you have treatment for myeloma, you will need regular check-ups to keep an eye on your health. Your doctor will decide how often you need check-ups because everyone is different. Check-ups will become less frequent if your condition has stabilised or you have no further problems.
Blood tests, urine tests, and bone marrow biopsies may be used to check your health. Occasionally x-rays and scans may also be used. Your doctor may note the levels of antibodies and proteins in the blood and urine.
If you notice any symptoms between appointments, tell your doctor as soon as possible. You don’t have to wait until the next scheduled appointment.
I’ve had many appointments with my doctors, mostly to manage pain caused by the myeloma. My doctors also monitor my bone lesions.
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 can get a Medicare rebate for sessions with a psychologist. Ask your doctor if you are eligible. Cancer Council may also run a counselling program in your area.
Cancer can cause physical and emotional strain, so it’s important to look after your wellbeing. Cancer Council has free booklets and programs to help you during and after treatment. Call 13 11 20 to find out more, or see Managing cancer side effects, Exercise during cancer treatment and Living well after cancer.
Dr Jane Estell, Senior Staff Specialist, Haematology Department, Concord Cancer Centre, and Senior Clinical Lecturer, The University of Sydney; Brenda Clasquin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Jacqui Keogh, Senior Myeloma Support Nurse, Myeloma Australia; Dr Silvia Ling, Haematologist, Liverpool Hospital and Sydney Adventist Hospital; and John Miller, Consumer.
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