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Your last day of treatment has arrived! Finally, a glimmer of hope that you will be getting your life back. Chemotherapy is over, no more cancer clinic visits -- maybe you will even start seeing some hair soon! But there may be something not-so-satisfying about this moment that you've looked forward to for months now. You might even feel a bit sad and confused. If so, you're normal. You're normal because you've been fighting for your life with your family and friends rallying around supporting you. You've been their focus, and even your own thoughts have been inward toward healing and wellness. Now your focus is turning outward again, and family and friends might not be as available, because, after all, now you're all better, right? Well, yes . . . and no. Oncology treatment is over, but you still have some healing to do, along with physical scars that remind you, daily, of what you've been through to get this far. It takes the human body time to recover from catastrophic illness. Give yourself some grace. Your energy level will return again, just keep your pace slow and steady. Fear of a cancer recurrence may also be lurking behind some of your confusion. You might find yourself poking around your lymph nodes thinking – is that a bump I feel? Was that bump there yesterday? What is that sharp pain in my side? While these feelings are normal, they should not be swept under the rug. Talk to your healthcare team about your feelings at your follow-up appointments. Also, consider joining a support group for cancer survivors. Organizations like The Wellness Community (http://www.thewellnesscommunity.org/default.asp) provide free group counseling for breast cancer survivors and their families, and you'll find other cancer networking groups in the community section of your local newspaper. The last day of treatment is a milestone, celebrate it! But continue giving yourself the time you need to get back into your normal routine.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|