Cancer survivorship is often viewed as purely victorious. Unfortunately, many people who have survived cancer deal with ongoing physical and emotional battles that are rarely discussed. After you have achieved remission, you may need ongoing support.
1. Mental Health
The diagnosis and treatment of cancer can provoke a wide array of mental health challenges that do not always stop once you achieve remission. Anxiety is a common occurrence, especially when you need follow-up scans to determine if you are still in remission. Many people in remission develop a heightened awareness of their body that can result in common aches, pains, and illnesses sending them into a panic.
It is important for many cancer survivors to have ongoing counseling, especially with a mental health provider who specializes in cancer survivorship. They can be an invaluable resource to discuss ongoing feelings of anxiety or depression and connect you with resources if you need more thorough mental health care.
Dealing with cancer can bring out the best and worst in the people around you. In some cases, people who have survived cancer find relationships dissolve, especially with intimate partners. Support groups can be critical during this time because you may find many people have experienced one-sided relationships and abandonment during their most difficult times.
One of the most important benefits of having a support group when relationships dissolve is reinforcing that it is not your fault. It is easy to blame yourself when relationships go sour during an illness, but the reality is the other person involved likely was not committed enough or cared enough to stay the course. Support groups can also be encouraging if you choose to date again in the future.
3. Physical Health
Many people who survived cancer will experience changes in their body, especially due to treatments that have destroyed cancer. The changes you experience can be purely aesthetic, such as a mastectomy, weight gain/loss, or disfigurement. If you had chemotherapy, you may experience exhaustion that goes on well after you are in remission. It is important to have access to resources to improve your physical health and well-being after remission.
This may include a fitness trainer who understands your situation and can help you rebuild strength or fittings for wigs or prosthetics. In some cases, these items are not covered by insurance, or if you are uninsured, you may need to rely on charitable organizations for help. It can be difficult for cancer survivors to look forward to their future when they continue to look and feel nothing like their former, cancer-free self.
Surviving cancer should be a happy time, but it can be a long road to feeling better. Having different forms of support available can help you tackle many of the issues you might face. For more information, contact your local cancer care services.