Let's discuss life after cancer
Moving from cancer patient to cancer survivor is a time of change. While you’re getting used to everyday life again, you’re still facing challenges. We asked our online community and Facebook fans about life after cancer – here’s what they shared:
“After the treatments, I knew that I had changed. It took me a few months to redefine myself. You lose a bit of innocence. And no longer take anything for granted because you know that there are no guarantees. In hindsight, I can say that cancer allowed me to believe that I can face everything with the right attitude. Life is fragile but especially beautiful.”
“I was never really sure if there would be a life after cancer, but there was and I am so thankful for it. Personally I think it is very important to get your life to some sort of normalcy whatever that may be or what you are able to do. When I say normalcy I mean something you are comfortable with. It doesn’t have to be huge or earth shattering just something you enjoy doing or something that you feel comfortable with.”
Living with the fear of cancer coming back
It’s common for cancer survivors to worry about cancer returning, especially during the first year or so after treatment. Many survivors say that while the fear never completely goes away, it does get better. And focusing on the here and now helps.
“The fear, the fear of recurrence. The pain every day – that was the negative. Now, the positive is the love I have for life. I do not live the same way anymore. I appreciate every little moment. Thank you, life. Thank you, health!” – Chantal
“For me, there will be no life after cancer (chronic lymphoma) but rather life between recurrences. I’ve just had my first relapse after 19 months of remission. I’m disappointed but I’ll stay positive and keep fighting. Knowing that you can relapse changes how you look at life. And seeing the fear and incomprehension in the eyes of my 3 girls is difficult and unfair. But every day, I am grateful to be here. I’m looking forward to growing old because growing old means life.” – Claudine
“Now that treatment was done, I began dealing with all the feelings I had put on hold. Fear, disappointment, sadness and anger. I had a few reoccurrence scares that in the end were nothing to worry about. That took another year…then life got better. Now I do what I want now rather than putting it off. I let myself love more deeply and take more risks. The colors of life seem brighter and more precious. That for me has been Cancer’s hidden gift.”
“Life after cancer changes, matures and it can normalize…but the fear is always there. Each lump, bump, pain and lab test is scrutinized. So yes that waiting game between tests and results persists and I suppose it always will.” – Tracy
Love life – live it day by day
It’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions after cancer treatment. Many cancer survivors say they feel relieved and happy – and they now live each day to the fullest.
“What cancer teaches us is that you have to appreciate life and slow your pace. Live day by day and learn to enjoy the moment.” – Marc
“Seven years cancer-free with bladder cancer and 2 years with kidney cancer – I live my life as if none of this happened to me. I live a day at a time and enjoy every one of them and plan on being around for years to come. Never look back. Keep on moving forward.”
“Love life! Never look back or worry about tomorrow – live now. Smile! Smiles are contagious.” – Dawn
“I’m a 29-year-old mum, and come October I’ve been 3 years in remission from colon cancer. My son was 6 at the time, and I didn't know if it was going to be my last Christmas with him. Thankfully, I’m still here and about to enjoy his 10th birthday and Christmas that’s coming soon! Always be grateful for the here and the now!”
“My life has changed dramatically and actually has normalized more than ever before! I am living life! Not just going through the motions.” – Tracy
Take healthy steps
Once treatment is over, you may be thinking about some healthy goals to work toward. You’ve been through a lot, so it’s okay to start small. If you’d like to make some lifestyle changes but don’t know where to begin, your healthcare team can help.
“Cancer made me realize the value of life, of taking the time to breathe. Today I can run 5 km, when just 2 years ago I would sleep 15 hours a day.” – Diane
“I have to live with some very small handicaps but in the big scheme of things, it is much more positive than the alternative I was given 5 years ago, when I was told I had a week to live. In those 5 years I have done several of the things on my so called “bucket list” but have kept in mind my limitations. I use the word limitations loosely because I know that if I don’t push myself just a little I will never get stronger.”
How did you feel after treatment? Let us know by leaving a comment, or join the discussion
Find out more about life after cancer at cancer.ca. If you’d like to talk to someone who has been through a similar experience, call 1-888-939-3333 to learn about our Peer Support Service.