December 19, 2022
A normal, cancer-free life is something that all cancer fighters look forward to from the day they are diagnosed. However, this much awaited new reality can sometimes come with its own challenges.
Although the hardships of cancer treatment may be over, post-cancer care is something every survivor should pay close attention to. It is normal to have concerns about the physical and emotional challenges that occur post-cancer treatment.
Here we have explained why post treatment care is most important.
When cancer does not show up in blood tests, x-rays or MRI’s, a patient is deemed in remission. Follow-up care is critical for all cancer survivors going through remission. Knowing what to expect after advanced cancer treatment will help them and their families make preparations, changes to their lifestyle, and other crucial decisions.
Follow-up care monitors the survivor's health, manages any long-term side effects, and keeps track that cancer hasn't returned or spread after treatment. It is important to schedule regular meetings with oncologists or physicians.
The frequency of follow-up visits is determined by the kind of cancer, the course of treatment, any side effects, or health issues of the patient. For the first several years, most people have checkups every three to six months. Contact your doctor straight away if there are any concerns or new symptoms in between consultations. Don't hold off till the upcoming checkup.
Certain cancer treatments could lead to long-term health issues. However, these issues may not surface right away or even for some years post treatment. Consult with your oncologist to understand the possibility of future risks that may occur due to the treatment received. Here are a few questions you may ask:
If the therapies you received placed you at risk for either short-term or long-term health issues
What those issues are and how to identify them
How to respond if you spot them
What you can do to maintain the best possible health
There are several physical changes that the patient may experience during and after their treatment - depending on the type of cancer and the therapy received. Since no two people are alike, even if they had the same type of cancer and received the same therapy, it is possible to experience changes that may be quite different from one another.
Sometimes, cancer survivors may still be processing the changes that are happening to their bodies. Recovering from these effects can take some time. Patients may still be in doubt about which symptoms indicate a recurrence of cancer.
Here are a few of the most common issues people mention:
Some cancer survivors experienced fatigue during the first year of recovery and it is one of the most reported symptoms. Fatigue is often caused by conditions, such as anemia (having too few red blood cells), a compromised immune system, depression, inadequate hydration, or poor diet. Pain might also worsen fatigue levels.
The exact cause of fatigue post-treatment is still under study. However, here are a few suggestions to cope with fatigue.
Plan your day
Take short naps between activities
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
Consider joining a support group
Following treatment, some patients may experience severe pain. It can be a result of damaged nerves, chemotherapy, or surgery. If the patient continues to experience pain after the treatment is over, a doctor can help identify the cause of the discomfort and prescribe medicines.
For patients suffering from pain, the most common remedies prescribed by doctors are pain-relief medicines. Physical therapy, Yoga, and Acupuncture are other alternative therapies that the patient can try.
Many cancer survivors face issues with memory and focus after chemotherapy. They often experience a condition referred to as “Chemo Brain” where they have trouble focusing on a task or remembering a new word.
Survivors who continue to experience problems can try the following methods.
Writing tasks down
Repeating what you want to remember
Cancer therapy can have an impact on your emotions and thoughts, just as it does on your physical health. It is normal to experience a wide array of emotions post treatment. Understanding and managing these emotions can improve the quality of life and improve overall health.
Here are two conditions that cancer fighters often struggle with after treatment,
It is possible for cancer survivors to feel angry, anxious, or depressed after treatment. These emotions often subside or disappear over time for most people. But for others, these feelings could get worse. The painful emotions interfere with daily living and do not get any better. This condition is often known as depression. It is possible that cancer treatment altered brain function, which could have made this problem worse.
Consulting a doctor is the right course of action for people who have trouble facing these emotions. If the doctor suspects depression, he or she may prescribe medication or make referrals to other professionals. Many cancer survivors seek the assistance of therapists who specialize in treating depression.
Following cancer treatment, it's common to feel a distance from others, even from family and friends as everyone resumes their normal routine. Friends and relatives frequently want to assist but are unsure how. Patients might also miss the assistance they received from the medical staff after treatment.
If the patient suffers from loneliness, it is advisable for them to join support groups locally or through the internet.
The end of treatment may be a time to anticipate the future. Fresh starts can make people feel relieved and happy. Additionally, it might be a time of mental and physical change. Try to give the cancer fighters some time to reconnect with themselves now that the treatment is completed. Help them rejoice with their family and in the process heal themselves.