While the end of successful cancer treatment is a time for celebration, it can also mean new challenges for survivors. Returning to work and managing the ongoing emotional and physical effects of cancer and cancer treatment often presents unanticipated changes for patients and their families. The key to returning to a normal life after treatment may be found in establishing new habits in diet and exercise, and learning to cope with a range of emotional and physical challenges.
Nutrition and Exercise
Cancer survivors should first turn to their care team for information and advice about nutrition, physical activity and dietary supplements to improve quality of life and long-term survival. In the past, doctors often advised patients to rest and reduce physical activity to avoid fatigue associated with cancer and treatment. If patients experience pain, shortness of breath or rapid heart rate, this is good advice.
However, recent research also indicates that exercise during and after treatment can be safe and beneficial. Your cancer team is the best resource for beginning or resuming a more active post-cancer lifestyle. They have answers to many questions about maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine during and after treatment, and they can refer patients and family caregivers to other professionals for a tailored post-treatment plan.
Physical and Emotional Challenges
The aftereffects of chemotherapy, surgery or radiation therapy should not be underestimated. Pain, fatigue and nausea are common; more serious conditions can include anemia, lymphedema (a buildup of fluid in fatty tissues just beneath the skin) and even severe infections. For both men and women, cancer and cancer treatment can cause changes in fertility and sexual side effects. Your oncology team is trained to monitor and manage the short and long term effects of treatment, so it’s important to discuss your concerns with your team and follow their instructions.
The emotional side effects of cancer survivorship touch both patients and their families. The stress associated with a cancer diagnosis and the physical effects of treatment are often still fresh in memory. Survivors and their families can feel a complicated mixture of relief and worry about the future; some suffer episodes of anxiety and even depression. These are all matters to discuss with your oncology team, who can help you achieve emotional balance or refer you to another appropriate professional, if needed.
Healthcare after Cancer
In the rush to put cancer behind you, it’s important to remember that the end of treatment doesn’t mean the end of seeing your cancer team. Most often, long-term follow-up appointments and tests, followed by routine checkups and health screenings, will continue for many years. It’s important to keep your follow-up appointments and undergo these tests and screenings as recommended by your oncologist. While there is no absolute certainty that seeing your oncologist will prevent cancer from returning, it will help make sure that any recurrence is detected and treated early.
As a cancer survivor you’ve come a long way; with the help of your oncology team, your family and even your employer, there’s a lot of promise in your future as well. Your life after cancer offers the prospect of many years of good health, rewarding work, happiness and fulfillment.
World-Class Cancer Treatment Close to Home
Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) has put together a network of expert, board-certified physicians who bring world‐class cancer treatments to local communities, both large and small, across the state. With nearly 100 locations, FCS is the largest independent oncology/hematology group in the United States. That status puts this practice on the leading edge of clinical trial research, and gives FCS physicians access to the newest and most innovative treatments.
Florida Cancer Specialists treats patients with all types of cancer, and offers a number of services including an in-house specialty pharmacy, an in-house pathology lab, and financial counselors at every location, all of which deliver the most advanced and personalized care in your local community.
Cape Coral Cay West
1708 Cape Coral Pkwy West, Suite 10
Cape Coral, FL 33914
North Fort Myers
1030 Commerce Creek Blvd
Cape Coral, FL 33909
Fort Myers Colonial
8931 Colonial Center Drive, Suite 300
Fort Myers, FL 33905
Fort Myers Gladiolus
8260 Gladiolus Dr
Fort Myers, FL 33908