When you finish treatment it can feel like coming off a rollercoaster. The biggest part is over but you might still feel ‘wobbly’. You may have been putting all your effort into coping with treatment and now you have the chance to look back at what you’ve been through. At the same time, your hospital appointments may become less frequent and you may feel less supported.
Some days you may feel that you’re recovering well, but other days may be a struggle, leaving you feeling low. Emotional recovery from treatment often takes longer than people expect. Try not to push yourself too hard. Setting yourself small achievable goals can help.
Some of the emotions and feelings you have after treatment may be very powerful or unpleasant and may be new to you – but they are normal. Worry and fatigue can leave you feeling much more emotional than you were before. You may feel very ‘thin skinned’. You may experience a whole range of unexpected emotions, such as feeling withdrawn, fearful, irritable or frustrated. You may have poor concentration or your brain may feel foggy.
On the whole, people don’t talk much about the way cancer makes them feel. You may feel under pressure to be positive and not to appear low or negative. On some level, things will never be quite the same again, and it can take time to discover and learn how to live with your ‘new normal’.
Most people feel stronger over time and get back to enjoying normal life again. But this isn’t possible for everyone. If you feel you can’t cope, your GP or specialist nurse may refer you to a counsellor or clinical psychologist. Some of these services are free on the NHS but you may need to pay for long term counselling.
Some hospitals offer Health and Wellbeing events where you can get information on coping with daily life after treatment. It’s also a chance to meet other people in a similar position to you. Ask your healthcare team if there are any events in your area.
Some hospitals also offer ‘holistic needs assessments’ to find out what practical or physical help you may need. Your healthcare team can refer you to other local services, if you need them. Your specialist nurse can tell you if these assessments are available at your hospital.
Visit our online patient forum to talk about your experiences, share knowledge and get support from other people.
Updated August 2018. Due for review March 2019.