When cancer treatment ends

It’s hard for those of us who have undergone treatment for any kind of cancer to trust that our cancer is truly gone, even if that is what the doctor has just told us.  

When treatment ends, you begin a new chapter in your life, one that can bring hope and joy, alongside other feelings you may not be expecting.  You are ready to put the experience behind you but it  takes time before your confidence in your body and recovery is restored and your fear of recurrence begins to fade. Initially it can feel very much like you are in limbo – no longer a cancer patient but not quite ready to embrace being a survivor. You can feel like you are standing on a bridge caught halfway between the old and the new.

Finishing treatment is of course a huge relief, but it also brings other stresses and concerns which you may not be prepared for.  You have been seeing your medical team and undergoing treatment regularly; now, suddenly, you are sent on your way and your hospital visits are scheduled every 6 months to a year. This is a good thing of course, but you can feel very alone, anxious and lost without the medical and psycho-oncology support you have come to depend on.  At the time I felt like I was cut adrift, standing on that bridge.

I remember feeling overwhelmed with sadness at times and emotionally exhausted and frequently tired in the weeks and months following the end of my cancer treatment. This was in part down to the lingering side effects of treatment, but also a normal reaction to having gone through a challenging life experience. Not only had my body been assailed by cancer and its treatment, but my emotions and my spirit too.  My outlook on life and indeed my whole way of life had changed and the next challenge would be in moving on with my life and integrating the cancer experience into how I lived that life.