Updated: Aug 21
One of the biggest things I have learnt through my cancer journey is that the cancer journey does not simply end after the completion of treatment or going into remission, the journey of cancer lasts a lifetime! Something I have really struggled with along the way is the loss of support from friends and services after treatment has finished. People see you as someone who has survived, defeated cancer and has finished the journey, in fact, I have even had people say to me things like “it must be so good to have a normal life again now that cancer is over”. This could not be further from the truth!
I finished treatment when I was 11 years old, I had a good group of friends who had supported me through treatment, support services in place, and just a whole lot of support. Once I returned to the so-called “normal life” I felt as though I was pushed off a cliff. People assumed that because I had completed all my treatment and my cancer had gone I was fine and no longer needed support. My friends could never understand my new challenges in life which made it hard to fit in at school and I was no longer interested in some of the things they were interested in because of my new level of maturity. I eventually lost all my good friends as time went on and I became isolated with only my family to talk to.
Something I wished I had during this time was a way to connect with others who were experiencing similar things after treatment, this is where my idea for Cancer Talk arose. Being able to make connections with others who understand takes a huge difference and can even form lifelong friendships.
Things will get easier with time, you will learn new ways to cope with the difficulties you may face and will find techniques that help you where you need.
If you are reading this and you know someone who is either going through cancer or have finished treatment, check up on them, see how they are coping with the new life and changes, ask them to hang out and most importantly, treat them like a normal person! I loved meeting people that didn’t see me as some fragile cancer girl and just treated me the same as everyone else.
There are a number of problems people that have had treatment for cancer may experience, some of these include,
Treatment side effects:
- Memory loss
- Loss of appetite
- Weight gain
- Weight loss
- Problems with various organs and glands
- Loss of concentration
- Decreased cognitive abilities
This is a very small list of the things I could think of, some of them I still experience today, 9 years’ post-treatment. Not everyone will experience these effects and might experience others not mentioned above.
Some other aspects included in post-treatment is the constant check-ups, scans, blood tests etc. These can really take a toll on one’s mental health with the anxiety that can occur during the lead up to these procedures and tests. I now suffer from PTSD because of the procedures I had during treatment which makes check-ups and regular tests extremely difficult. If you would like to know more about the anxiety around tests and scans check out the blog post Scanxiety here on the Cancer Talk website.
Stay strong, reach out to others who understand and if you know someone who has gone through cancer treatment, reach out to them and offer your support.