The journey through cancer and its treatment and survival is long, and it is natural for the survivors to feel the need to return to their everyday, functioning life as soon as possible. This urge is reasonable and the survival itself is an achievement, there are some things, cancer survivors can do to recover and live better.
The process of going through the journey of cancer, from diagnosis to the procedures that they go through to fight cancer, is a tedious progress and has excellent effects on the mental and physical health of a person and care is necessary to ensure that the survivor manages the side effects of the treatment and regain their original health. The care given to patients after the treatment is follow up care, and a team of doctors monitors them to ensure there is no recurrence while also giving them guidance for months or years to come, based on their individual records.
Follow up care for physical health
Ensuring follow up care for the physical care of the survivor includes a combination of steps. Monitoring the body for recurrence, managing the long-term and late side effects of the disease and providing guidance on a diet, physical exercise are some tips to improve and build the stamina in the body.
Recurrent cancer is when cancer comes back even after the treatment since there are cancer cells in the body that remain undetected. These undetected cells may continue to grow in the body until they are noticeable in tests. The chances of recurrence in a person depend on the type and stage of cancer they initially had since this information directly affects where the area of recurrence is. While it is impossible to tell which patient will experience recurrent cancer, the doctors who are familiar with the patient’s medical history can give them a more personalised treatment and follow up care based on their records.
Managing side effects
While the doctors take care of the side effects that occur during the treatment, there are a few side effects that exist beyond the course of treatment and these are long-term side effects. In some cases, side effects appear months or years after the treatment is over, and these are late side effects. Depending on the type of cancer that a person has, the doctor suggests specific tests based on whether the risk of developing long-term or late side effects is more or not.
Personal guidance based on health records
On the basis of a person’s health record, which will contain information on the type and stage of cancer they had, their health before cancer, and previous diseases they had, the follow-up care team will provide guidance on the kind of diet they should have, the exercise routine they should follow and general instructions on the things they should avoid for a quicker and healthier recovery. While the guidance will consist of general advice on diet, exercise and regular activities, it will also include targeted medicines and treatments to prevent further decline in health and ensure recovery.
Care for mental health and recovery
While the patients couldn’t wait for the day they would finish their cancer treatment and return to their everyday life, it can be challenging to leave the safety of the doctors who helped them and go back into their life and regular routine.
With cancer treatment coming to an end, the survivor is likely to spend less time with the doctors and cancer care team, and go through a lot of emotions while adjusting back to their life. All the confusing feelings that the survivors go through during this time are completely normal and valid. The follow-up care they get after cancer treatment is not just for their physical health but also to manage their mental health. Some fears are common amongst cancer survivors that can be addressed and processed in a healthy, safe space.
Fear of recurrence
Fear of recurrence is widespread amongst cancer survivors. Even though a survivor can go on for years without any signs of recurrence, the fear and worry that any pain or ache is a sign of the recurring disease stays with them. Survivors are advised to be open about their fears and thoughts to their doctors and consult if they have any doubts to ease their worries.
some steps that the survivors should follow to reduce their fear of recurrence are,
Taking care of their general physical health according to the doctor’s advice.
Being regular with follow up appointments so that the chances of recurrence are minimal.
Keeping themselves busy so that the intrusive thoughts are kept minimal.
Managing stress and anxiety
Throughout the treatment, the patient would have focused and emotionally invested in the process. After the completion, several things will demand their attention when they return to their regular lives. This can be very overwhelming, and they must focus on taking up the tasks one at a time. They should balance between work and taking care of themselves to ensure balance, so they don’t burn out.
The feelings and emotions they had, going through the treatment may still be pent up. These lingering feelings can cause anxiety. While for some people, these feelings will dissipate with time, others may develop into depression and anxiety. It is vital that they healthily address these feelings through therapy and medication recommended by their follow up care team.
Feelings of Self-consciousness and loneliness
There are a lot of significant changes that a survivor goes through in terms of their body and mentality. These changes can be the root of self-consciousness that strains their relationships. It is natural for a person to take time and grieve the changes that have happened. They should make sure they understand and realize how the disease made them stronger and focus on positive outcomes.
With the patient’s returning to the regular routine, they tend to feel alien to their surroundings. Friends and family can only support them to an extent, survivors should join support groups. There they can meet people who’ve had similar experiences they can share, which will improve their confidence and morale.
Each person’s experience and process with cancer is different and unique. There are a lot of new ways help and support can be offered. For example, by external factors like friends, family and the follow-up care team. It is vital for the survivor takes care of themselves so that they can lead a healthy life. With the medical advancements that have happened, the quality of cancer care and follow-up care have increased immensely. It supports the affected people and their loved ones in the best way for their quickest return to everyday life.