How to feel returning to a normal life after suffering cancer: After having gone through chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, uncertainties, waiting, fear … the person who has survived cancer is no longer the same. How to get back to life where it stopped?
How to feel returning to a normal life after suffering cancer
Almost from the diagnosis, the cancer patient and his family want life to return to normal. However, when the oncologist communicates the happy news that the treatment has ended and you no longer have to return until after a few months to check that everything is going well, another great challenge may begin: return to life where it stopped.
For months, reality forces to change life, needs and priorities. Therefore, adapting to the family, social, work environment once the disease is overcome is not easy . At this time, it is quite common to feel unprotected and vulnerable. New challenges then appear such as returning to work or facing the loss of it, living with some physical sequel, returning to have an active social life, changes in family relationships … All these situations make life normalization difficult, since it is Frequently feel like a roller coaster of constant emotions.
After having gone through chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, uncertainties, waiting, fear … the person who has survived cancer is no longer the same. Many internal and external aspects may have changed and resume daily routines after overcoming breast cancer, it may be somewhat more difficult than previously thought. Many women have to face the physical consequences that the disease may have left day after day, causing certain activities of the daily routine to become complicated when they were not.
Some of the physical difficulties that may appear are:
- Lymphedema: an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in adipose tissues just below the skin. It can cause swelling in one of the arms and is usually accompanied by pain during mobilization. It is also limiting as it is discouraged to force the affected arm, carry weight etc.
- Early menopause: produced by the treatment which causes excessive vaginal dryness with the consequent difficulties in sexual intercourse.
- Chemo-brain (in Spanish literally “chemo-brain”). This term refers to cognitive changes caused by having received chemotherapy and including difficulty with short-term memory, multiple jobs, new learning, understanding of what is read, working with numbers and a decrease in the ability to concentrate. Although these difficulties usually disappear in the short-medium term, they cause complications in the incorporation into normal working life.
However, these changes may also be for the better. The priorities, the values, the importance of self-care, the perception of the details that could previously go unnoticed, change.
Recommendations for adaptation to “normal” life after cancer
- Live in the present, here and now . The practice of mindfulness contributes to it.
- Spend more time with loved ones . Cancer is usually like a sieve that selects authentic personal relationships from those that are not.
- Reflect on what has happened . The treatment, the emotions lived, have passed quickly without much attention, stopping to digest them helps to integrate and fit them into our lives.
- Talk about feelings . Express them in some way, name them, fear, joy, sadness, illusion etc …
- Improve self-care . Take care of food, sleep and rest, exercise …
- Reflect on the change of values . Where do I want my life to go? What do I want to invest my time in?
- Maintain proactive behavior while respecting one’s own pace. Gradually, without haste, translate into behavior the changes we have planned to make.
In short, despite the difficulties, it is possible to return to normal life after cancer, not the same as before but better than before.