Image for life after cancer article Surviving cancer is an amazing success story. Ending cancer treatment is exciting, but it is also challenging. There are so many questions about the future.

Follow-up Care

After treatment, you will still need regular appointments with your doctor. Work with your doctor to develop the follow-up schedule that works best for you and your specific cancer.

During a follow-up appointment, the doctor will do a physical exam. They may also do some blood tests and x-rays. This is also a good time to talk about any other physical or emotional concerns you have. Examples are:

  • Symptoms that you think may be a sign of cancer’s return
  • Pain
  • Physical problems that interfere with your life such as tiredness, sleep problems, sex, or weight changes
  • Emotional problems, such as ongoing worry or lasting sadness
  • Changes in your family history

Dealing With the Fear

It is natural to feel worried before your follow-up appointment. Here are some ideas to help you cope:

  • Learn about your cancer. Ask your doctor about signs you should watch for.
  • Express your feelings, even if it is fear, anger, or sadness. Talk with friends, family, other cancer survivors, or a counselor.
  • Focus on wellness and try to look for the good, even in hard times. This does not mean you need to be upbeat all the time.
  • Find ways to relax and ease stress. Read a new book or see a movie. Soak in the bathtub or try a meditation class.
  • Be as active as you can. Ty to get out of the house and do something you find worthwhile.
  • Control what you can, and know what you cannot control. Be involved with your healthcare. Things you can control include making and keeping your medical appointments, setting a daily schedule, and making healthy lifestyle changes.

Developing a Wellness Plan

After cancer it is important to develop a wellness plan. A wellness plan helps you take care of your physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. Ask your doctor to help you create a plan for your health. Here are some suggestions:

  • Returning to your normal diet may be difficult at first. Start with smaller, more frequent meals. Include familiar foods that make you comfortable.
  • Make more than one meal of the same foods. Freeze leftovers for later use.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. This includes:
    • Plenty of fruits and vegetables
    • Whole grains
    • Foods low in fat
  • Do regular physical activity. Talk to your doctor first.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink.
  • If you smoke, ask your doctor about methods to quit

Adjusting

After treatment has ended, you may want to return to your life before cancer. Counseling, support groups, and other services can help you adjust to any changes.

RESOURCES:

American Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.org

National Cancer Institute
http://www.cancer.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

BC Cancer Agency
http://www.bccancer.bc.ca

Canadian Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.ca

REFERENCES:

Cancer survivorship. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/cancer-survivorship. Accessed October 8, 2021.

Facing forward series: life after cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/life-after-treatment.pdf . Accessed October 8, 2021.

Low-fat foods. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/healthy/eat-healthy-get-active/take-control-your-weight/low-fat-foods.html . Accessed October 8, 2021.

Shopping list: basic ingredients for a healthy kitchen. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/healthy/eat-healthy-get-active/eat-healthy/shopping-list-basic-ingredients-for-a-healthy-kitchen.html . Accessed October 8, 2021.

Last reviewed October 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board   Last Updated: 10/8/2021