Finding the New “Normal” After Cancer Treatment

Once you’ve completed treatment, you’re likely to wonder, “I’ve completed treatment. What’s in store for me now?”

You are probably relieved to be finished with the demands of treatment and are ready to put the experience behind you. Yet at the same time, you may feel sad and worried. It’s common to be concerned about whether cancer will come back and what you should do after treatment.

When treatment ends, you may expect life to return to the way it was before you were diagnosed with cancer. But it can take some time to recover. You may have permanent scars on your body, or you may not be able to do some things you once did easily. Or you may even have emotional scars from going through so much. You may find that others think of you differently now—or you may view yourself in a different way.

Those who have gone through cancer treatment describe the first few months as a time of change. It’s not so much “getting back to normal” as it is finding out what’s normal for you now. People often say that life has a new meaning or that they look at things differently now. You can also expect things to keep changing as you begin your recovery. Your new “normal” may include making changes in the way you eat, the things you do, and your sources of support.

Some common questions you may have are:

  • What can be done to relieve pain, fatigue, or other problems after treatment?
  • How long will it take for me to recover and feel more like myself?
  • Is there anything I can or should be doing to keep cancer from coming back?
  • Will I have trouble with health insurance?
  • Are there any support groups I can join?

Coping with these issues can be a challenge. Yet many say that getting involved in decisions about their medical care and lifestyle was a good way for them to regain some of the control they felt they lost during cancer treatment. Research has shown that people who feel more in control feel and function better than those who do not.