So, treatment is finally over and it’s time to go home from hospital…. Now what?
Finishing treatment is one of the most exciting days of the cancer journey, although sometimes it can be scary, and that’s okay. I found that there were different stages for going home and every stage can have different challenges and rewards.
First arriving at home:
When first coming home from treatment there is a lot of excitement, you can finally relax in your own home, you are able to see family members that you might not have seen in a long time, catch up with friends and so much more. While this is all great, I found when I first went home from the hospital I was constantly worried something was going to happen and I didn’t have the security of being in the hospital anymore. To get over this, having access to the phone number for your hospital is a great idea. Being able to ring them and make sure everything is okay can give you a lot of relief and I used this a lot when I wasn’t sure if I was okay, the hospital staff are always friendly and happy to offer their support. Overall, the first stage of returning home was so great, I was just so happy to be back in my own space and doing my own thing again.
Getting back to life:
After settling in at home and getting the hang of things again I decided to go back to school, this might be returning to work or university for you. School was very different when I returned, I felt everyone treated me different but I just wanted to be like everyone else. I found it hard to concentrate at times, my memory seemed to have been affected and I felt my handwriting, typing and thinking skills had slowed. When returning to normal every day activates after treatment it’s important to get a rehabilitation assessment from the hospital. This is where an Occupational Therapist test various abilities to see where you are at after treatment, a report is written so if you have some changes you can advise your school, university or work to help them adapt to your new challenges.
Finding your identity:
After treatment is over it is quite normal to feel as though you have lost your identity, this might have been because of the way people see you, the girl/boy with cancer, or the new limitations you have in your life, not being able to participate in certain activities and do all the things you might have done pre-cancer. When I went through this stage I found it very difficult, I just wanted to hang with my friends and do all school activities but with many hospital appointments and have limitations I was unable to. I felt lonely and no one could understand why I wasn’t able to do certain things. After a few years and once I had matured a little more, I found an occupation that I wanted to do, something to focus on and put my energy into, something that kept me motivated. This was occupational therapy. In high school, I discovered that I wanted to be an occupational therapist, I felt like this was a long-term goal that I could possibly achieve. By having this goal, I devoted my time and energy into achieving this and after completing high school, I could begin my journey. This was my new identity.