There are many parts to survivorship and the transition to life after treatment—including changes with family and intimate relationships, medical issues, exercise, nutrition, and adjustments to the overall quality of our lives. Survivorship is what you do everyday to take care of yourself, communicate with your family and friends, and be a part of your everyday community and the larger community of survivors.
After treatment, you may have different ways that you need to be supported. It is important to recognize what you need to go forward. You might look to a support group or an online forum to get emotional support and learn how best to express your feelings and needs during this transitional time.
Support might also come in the form of an exercise buddy who helps you reach your exercise goals, or someone to grocery shop with to make sure you are eating healthy, nutritious foods. Support might also mean asking friends and family to take on tasks for you that are physically tiring or mentally overwhelming, like household chores or maintaining your medical records.
An educated survivor who continues to work with their health care team will improve their health and quality of life after treatment. The key things to educate yourself about after cancer treatment include:
- Emotional health and well¬being
- Medical management
As a survivor trying to live well after treatment, you may hope for many things in your life. Perhaps you hope for recovery of your physical and emotional health; for peace in your relationships; for good communication with your doctor; for a way to come to terms with cancer and its place in your life. By being mindful of your need to monitor your physical activity, nutrition, emotional and physical health, you are improving the quality of your life after treatment.
With the end of treatment, you have passed a milestone. Some days will always be better than others; that’s true for everyone. Hope helps us get through the night and out of bed in the morning: hope for the sun to shine or the rain to fall, hope for a graduation or wedding or birthday, hope for a chat with a friend. Hope remains, but perhaps the details have changed.
Think about what matters to you. When you are ready, write about what you hope for yourself. There is no limit on the number of things you can hope for, nor is there a limit on how much time you have to write or revise the list. This can be your work in progress. As some of your hopes come to pass, you might choose to cross them off the list and add new things to look forward to and work towards.
“Survivorship, what does it mean to me? That I wake up every day. I put two feet on the ground. I enjoy my day. I do what I feel is important to me. I’m with the people that I love. What could be better?”
—Karen, Survivorship Stories, www.livestrong.org