People talking

Some people may find it difficult to cope after cancer, but support is available

Life during cancer treatment can be tough, and it takes determination and resilience to get through most cancer treatments. But what happens when treatment finishes?

For some, life returns to normal. But many others struggle following the completion of their treatment, and a common response is actually one of feeling alone.

From being a regular at the hospital, all of a sudden people can feel they’re cast adrift without the support and assurances of the healthcare professionals. And they’re no longer meeting others in the same situation.

On top of this, many people may also find that their family and friends – having shown help and support following a diagnosis and subsequent treatment – start to get on with their own lives once someone seems to be getting better, adding to the sense of loneliness.

This is what happened to Fiona, who shares her experience this month in Cancer Spotlight, our e-newsletter for people affected by cancer. Here’s her story – and how she coped.

At the age of 36, following a breast cancer diagnosis, Fiona had surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She says

“When I finished my radiotherapy I assumed that I would feel relieved and just get on with my life. But I was surprised at how difficult I found not going to the hospital every day. My first follow up appointment wasn’t for 6 months and this felt quite a big jump. I felt quite isolated.

It sounds a strange thing to say but part of me missed the feeling of being ‘special’. I had time to think about what I had been through and wanted to try and make sense of it all.”

To help her cope during this time, Fiona contacted the breast care nurses at her hospital. They gave her telephone support, and saw her between out-patient appointments if she was worried about anything. She also found her return to work and subsequent fundraising for Cancer Research UK and other charities useful in helping her to adjust to life after treatment.

People can seek support after treatment from a number of sources, from a close family member or friend to a counsellor, health professional or someone from a support group. On-line communities can also provide help and support at this time.

CancerHelp UK has more information on coping emotionally with cancer, and you can read Fiona’s story in full in Cancer Spotlight – our regular e-newsletter for people affected by cancer.

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Sarah Kimber, Cancer Spotlight editor

  • Our Cancer Information Nurses are also available on freephone 0808 800 4040 (9am-5pm, Monday to Friday) to talk to anyone concerned about cancer. And our online forum, Cancer Chat , is always open for people to share their experiences and find information.