You have fought the battle of your life and won! Your oncologist and a team of dedicated nurses, dietitians, and other clinicians have become like family, partnering with you on a hard journey leading to remission.
Now what? Everything just falls back to your normal pre-cancer life, right? Probably not. Understanding the need for follow-up care and dealing with the aftermath – physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially – is critical to restoring and maintaining wellness.
Acknowledge the Now
You are not who you once were. And it’s important to acknowledge that. Whether the changes are mental, emotional, and/or physical, take the time to rediscover who you are post-cancer. The people who walked with you through your cancer fight may feel abruptly removed from your life. It’s hard. It’s okay to miss them or be sad.
It’s also normal to have fears, worries, and concerns you didn’t know before. We are products of our experience, and you’ve just faced cancer. It’s only natural to worry about recurrence or secondary cancer. Acknowledge the feelings, seek support and speak up with your primary care physician (PCP).
Future Side Effects
Maybe you were mentally prepared for hair loss, fatigue, mastectomy, and nausea during your cancer treatments. But now that you’re in remission, you find you still have side effects or have new side effects you didn’t see coming. These may include:
- so-called “chemo brain” (difficulty concentrating or memory issues)
- depression or anxiety
- early menopause or hot flashes
To manage these and other side effects, it’s important to discuss follow-up care with your PCP. Recently, the American Cancer Society issued a comprehensive survivorship care guideline for cancer survivors. This helps clinicians and survivors understand what follow-up tests are needed and when and what preventive health measures may be taken. The guidelines also provide tools for communicating about your cancer care, your ongoing symptoms, and how to manage your health as a new team.
Life after Cancer is an easy-to-understand guide that gives you, the survivor, a great resource and starting point to these discussions.
Healthy Ways to Move Forward
Follow-up care means discussing your current lifestyle choices with your PCP and finding healthy ways to move forward.
- If you’re smoking, seek help to stop as this could increase the possibility of recurrence.
- If you want to exercise, talk to your doctor to find the right exercise program. Movement is important, but doing too much too soon, before your body is ready, could be detrimental.
- Seek guidance on healthy eating habits as well. Food can play a large role in your physical, mental, and emotional wellness.
- If you feel revitalized, reborn and want to give back, volunteer! Many survivors find a second lease on life inspires and empowers them to help others. This is also an excellent option for rebuilding social relationships.
- Find joy. Reclaim an activity or hobby you enjoyed before cancer. Or try something new you always wanted to do but maybe were too intimidated to pursue.
We’re Here in the After Care, Too
Our team at Pretty in Pink Boutique understands that just because the disease is gone, it doesn’t mean the journey is over or that you aren’t profoundly changed. Follow-up and aftercare are important keys to staying healthy. We are happy to continue to partner with you in getting and staying well, emotionally, mentally, and physically. If you do find yourself needing additional support or facing new challenges like lymphedema, we remain at your service.