How to go on?
For more and more people, cancer can be cured or at least controlled so that you can live a near-normal life. The end of treatment can feel both relieving and frightening at the same time.
Once your treatments are over, your recovery from cancer is often just beginning
You may feel like you’re falling on empty, but once your treatments are over, your recovery from cancer is often just beginning. This gives you more time to process what you have experienced and your own feelings, and to move on to the future, perhaps with a new set of values and identity.
Almost all cancer treatments have both acute and long-term side effects. Unfortunately, these late effects are often permanent and it takes time to learn to live with them.
The ability to accept with compassion is an important resource for building a relationship with a changed body and an experience of self. In this way, confidence in one’s own life and in oneself can gradually be strengthened, even though the illness may leave behind a vague fear of relapse years after treatment has ended. Fear may never go away completely, but it can change shape and can be learned to face it with compassion.
Confidence in one’s life and in oneself
The ability to accept with compassion is an important resource for building a relationship with the changed body and the experience of self. In this way, confidence in one’s life and in oneself can be gradually strengthened, even though the illness may leave behind a vague fear of relapse years after treatment has ended.
Fear may never go away completely, but it can change shape and can be learned to face it with compassion.
Many people with cancer find that their quality of life has improved substantially since the disease. Cancer is a reminder of humanity and the finite nature of life.Life values have been realigned and new and more meaningful nuances have been added to life.After an illness, you may reflect on your relationship with life and yourself.Irrationality about yourself and others and uncertainty about where to find confidence in this unpredictable world may take time.People who focus their lives on things that are meaningful to them will experience hopelessness and depression.
What could help?
Try to focus your thoughts on the realities of your life right now. Avoid making underestimating assumptions about yourself, your abilities and your relationships, as you may be very vulnerable right now, but at the same time coping better than you ever imagined. Give more space to compassionate thoughts, you will be wiser, stronger and braver for what you are aware of. Trust that you already have more coping tools in your toolbox than ever before.
Self image – who am I?
With cancer, you will face many changes that will challenge you to examine your relationship with yourself and perhaps build a new self-image. You may ask yourself, who am I now? Your self-image is not only about your relationship with your body, but also includes your experience of yourself, your abilities and goals, and your perception of how other people see you.
Some of these changes can also be positive, such as strengthening your perception of your ability to cope in challenging situations. Your self-image may be affected by physical changes such as hair loss, weight gain, surgical scars, mastectomy, or an opening. It is normal to experience sadness and anxiety about physical changes. It may take time to adjust to these physical changes. A negative relationship with oneself, including one’s own body, can have a negative impact on quality of life. Leaving home may be more difficult than before and it may take more effort to get to know new people. The difficulty of adjusting to a changed body can also be reflected in avoiding physical intimacy or difficulty being naked around your spouse, which in turn can affect your experience of your relationship. For women in particular, the experience of self can play a significant role in building a sense of emotional security with your partner. For men, showing emotions physically or by doing things can often be more natural than talking about feelings.
What might help?
- You are always fundamentally You, no matter what changes happen to your body.
- Be gentle with yourself and your feelings.
- Give yourself enough time to get used to the changes in your body and mind.
- Encourage yourself to try new and exciting things, which can boost your self-confidence.
- Discuss your experiences openly with your partner. Dare to show your vulnerability.
- Anticipate social situations. Think about what you would like to say to people who haven’t seen you for a long time as your appearance changes.
- Take care of your own well-being through exercise, nutrition and enjoying things you like.
You might be also interested in
After treatment, you will be followed up. Cancer patients are followed up at regular intervals. Follow-up varies depending on the type of cancer and how far the cancer has spread. You may receive follow-up care for some time after treatment in a specialist hospital and then transfer to primary care.Read article
Back to work after cancer
A long absence from work may require support, flexibility and rehabilitation. The best results come from cooperation between the employer, employee and occupational health service.Read article
How do I cope with it all?
The strongest emotions often subside gradually over time, and adjustment becomes more and more an inner work in itself.Read article