Life after cancer

Beginning to recover

As you have fewer hospital visits and start to recover from the side effects of treatment, you may begin to feel relieved and hopeful. You may need to take it slowly at first, but doing some of the activities you did before cancer treatment may help you to feel more positive.

It’s understandable that having cancer can make you feel uncertain about the future. And it’s natural for this to continue after cancer treatment has ended. Taking control of the things you can do something about can help feelings of uncertainty.

Other feelings you may have include isolation or loneliness, a loss of confidence, or anger. You may find these feelings come and go at different times. And some days they may feel stronger than others.

Talking about how you feel with someone close can make it easier to cope.

Getting back to normal

The time after treatment is often a period of change. You’re finding out what’s now normal for you or what some people call their ‘new normal’. Give yourself time to discover and adjust to what this means for you. You’ll find out any changes to what you can and cannot do.

Things that can help:

  • pace yourself so you spend energy on what you want to do and what’s important
  • let your family and friends know how they can help
  • try to eat healthily to help you recover
  • think about ways to reduce stress
  • get the right balance of resting and being active – too much time sitting or lying down can make you feel tired for longer
  • talk about how you feel and if you need extra support contact a support group or ask your hospital team or GP to refer you to someone who can help

How quickly it takes to get back to doing everyday things depends on your type of cancer, your treatments and your general health.

Try not to rush things. See your recovery as small achievable goals that you can manage and slowly build up. For example, a goal could be going for a short walk most days or trying to eat healthily most days. You can be flexible with yourself. Setting goals, whether big or small, and working towards achieving them can bring different benefits and help you to feel more in control.

Over time you’ll gradually find yourself getting back into the routine of everyday life. Other things start taking over and cancer becomes less of a focus for you. You may get out more and see friends, go on holiday, get back into sport or hobbies, or go back to work.

Your cancer experience may change your outlook on life. Or you may think about things differently than you did before. Some people decide on what’s important to them and make new priorities. You may discover new interests, make lifestyle changes to improve your long term health or lead a less stressful life. 

The time after treatment is a good time to get back some control over your life and think about where you want to go from here.