Cancer can be deadly, but millions of people beat it. Surviving cancer is one of the most amazing success stories a person can have. Ending cancer treatment is exciting, but it is also challenging. There are so many questions. What happens next? Will your cancer return? How can you stay healthy?
Although your cancer treatment has ended, you will still need to have regular appointments with your doctor. This may be every 3-4 months for the first two years after treatment. Eventually, you may need a check-up only once or twice a year. Still, these check-ups are an important part of your follow–up care, so work with your doctor to develop the follow-up schedule that works best for you.
During a follow-up appointment, the doctor will do a physical exam. They may also do some blood tests and x-rays. But this is also an important time to talk with your doctor and address any physical or emotional issues that you are experiencing. Examples of important issues that you should discuss include:
It is natural to feel worried before your follow-up appointment. You may be afraid the doctor will tell you that cancer has returned. Some ideas to help you cope with your fear of cancer returning include:
An important step you can take to living a healthy life after cancer is to develop a wellness plan. A wellness plan consists of ways you can take care of your physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. Ask your doctor to help you create a plan for your health.
Everyone’s wellness plan is different, depending on each person’s situation. But, here are some suggestions that you may want to include in your wellness plan:
After cancer treatments have ended, you may just want to get back to normal—the way life was before the diagnosis. But, this rarely happens. If needed, consider looking into counseling, home care, support groups, and other specialized services to help you adjust back into daily life. Cancer has a profound impact on a person, but it doesn’t have to be for the worse. It may just take time to figure out just what normal is for you.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
BC Cancer Agency
Canadian Cancer Society
It's east to add fruits and vegetables to your diet. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/EatHealthyGetActive/EatHealthy/add-fruits-and-veggies-to-your-diet. Accessed January 9, 2014.
Cancer: after cancer treatment. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/cancer/treatment/after-cancer-treatment.html. Updated September 2010. Accessed January 9, 2014.
Facing forward series: life after cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/life-after-treatment. Updated July 31, 2012. Accessed January 9, 2014.
Low-fat foods. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/EatHealthyGetActive/TakeControlofYourWeight/low-fat-foods. Updated June 7, 2011. Accessed January 9, 2014.
Shopping list: basic ingredients for a healthy kitchen. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/EatHealthyGetActive/EatHealthy/shopping-list-basic-ingredients-for-a-healthy-kitchen. Accessed January 9, 2014.
Last reviewed January 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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