For many people, adjusting to life beyond cancer can be difficult as they will face a new set of challenges. There is no right or wrong way to feel and everyone’s experience of surviving cancer will be slightly different. It depends on your personality, personal circumstances and what type of cancer and treatment you have had. But for most people, it’s an emotional experience. Here are some helpful steps for you to move on with your life at ease.
Your Body Is Your Main Priority
Focus on improving your health. Eat healthy food by adding more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Include exercise as your daily activity. Go easy at first, but try to increase the intensity and amount of exercise you get as you recover. Get enough sleep so that you wake up feeling refreshed and able to tackle the rest of the day. These actions may help your body recover from cancer treatment and also help put your mind at ease by giving you a greater sense of control over your life.
Always Attend Follow Up Appointments
You may fear the worst when it’s time for your next follow-up appointment. Don’t let that stop you from going. Use the time with your doctor to ask questions about any signs or symptoms that worry you. Write down your concerns and discuss them at your next appointment. Knowing more may help you feel more in control.
Your body has been through the war of cancer. Try to focus on its amazing strength, especially when feeling your weakest. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t burden yourselves with house chores return to activities you enjoy first. The backlog of house chores and paused career initiatives can wait.
Consider Going Back to Work
If you were working before cancer, returning to work can help restore a sense of normalcy and control that is often lost during treatment. If you don’t feel comfortable resuming the position you had before your diagnosis, consider changing your job or talking to your employer about a way to ease into it. Change your resumé by skills and accomplishments rather than dates worked, in order to highlight your capabilities and draw attention away from any gaps generated by your cancer treatment.
Prepare Your Elevator Speech
It’s important to be mentally and emotionally prepared to answer all the questions that people will start asking you regarding your cancer or those who don’t know about what’s happening. Write down and practice a five-minute, two-minute, and 30-second explanation about what you want to say when someone asks why you where you’ve been, or how you are doing, so it no longer becomes a roadblock. Be prepared for mixed reactions from family and friends. If people don’t know how to react, try not to get upset. Some people avoid contact because cancer brings up difficult emotions. They are dealing with it in their own way.
Start Exercising only if you are capable
Exercise is a known way to reduce stress and tension, and it’s also another great way to connect with your new normal body. With your doctor’s approval, start small with at-home workouts and build your way up to going to the park early in the morning and then the gym, or even to classes that let you work out with a high-energy, supportive group.
Note: If you do take the last suggestion, be sure to get to a new class a few minutes early and let the instructor know what’s up so they can let you discreetly take a break or leave the class if you’re not feeling well.
Share your experience
Overcoming cancer is not an easy battle. The gift of giving back is one that keeps on giving, long after your treatment is over. Think about yourself on the day of your diagnosis and think about yourself now. You have inevitably learnt a lot along the way, whether you realised it or not. You have knowledge that can help someone else, and sharing that information will allow you to feel as though your cancer experience wasn’t for nothing: you are now able to help someone else get through this. Share on social media and let others get inspired and empowered to battle cancer. Cancer survivors have helped a lot to shine the light on this disease and help others cope as well.
Own your journey, but do not let cancer define you. Acknowledge your scars but help them fade. Let your new, authentic self emerge, the one who battles cancer. You are a survivor.
Where to get emotional support for cancer survivors
Photos: Healthhub, I-Medix, National Cancer Centre Singapore, National Cancer Society Malaysia, Time and Warmful