When Chemo Finishes, We're Not Always Rays of Sunshine
The end of treatment can often leave you feeling vulnerable.
Regardless of how horrible they are, chemotherapy and cancer treatments provide a shred of reassurance. These poisons stop cancer growing, and prevent it coming back.
When treatment ends, so too might the perception that you are being protected and healed: treatment was your defence against those little cancer cells that you worry are winging their way around your blood stream. Without the demon drugs it feels like nothing stands between you and a recurrence.
Where Have Your Clinical Crusaders Gone?
You had a large medical team doing everything they could to keep you alive. But now you go from seeing a doctor every week, to every few months.
And then there’s the confusion of who coordinates your care now. There’s no longer an easily accessible professional with whom to discuss your health and anxieties. Who do you go to with that mysterious back pain? Or with the strange mole on your knee? Your thoughts spiral. Perhaps when you do speak to your GP, you begin to feel a nuisance. Do they think you paranoid?
The way this pit of doom sounds, you could almost imagine that we'd prefer to be on chemo than embracing life thereafter.
This is clearly not true. But many of us do have a wobble.
Millions of people have passed into remission and most are scared. Trusting your body again is hard when it has let you down so badly.
But all those doctors and nurses believe that you don’t need them anymore. It is time to set you free from the endless trialling, testing and treating.
Find The Person That Boosts Self-Confidence
Hospitals and health providers are full of good people who really do care. If you need a supportive chat, the trick is find the human, and not become dismayed by and lost in the system.
When you're experiencing a particularly tremorous wobble, talk to your hospital team. By voicing how you're feeling, this in itself might help.
You could ask for a referral to a clinical psychologist who will help you cope with anxiety and instead support you to re-build confidence in your body again.
How do you cope with The Safety Net Wobble?
Absolutely true, I felt the rug had been pulled from under me. After a week of feeling great that my treatment had finished, I suddenly became very weepy, it was being afraid that I was 'on my own' despite having a supportive family. After a week of on and off crying I walked into my local Hospice, I was made to feel very welcome and was invited to attend day hospice one day a week. The staff were wonderful, I was given counselling, relaxation massages, involvement in craft sessions and much, much more. I realised eventually that the way I felt was normal and they helped me through coming to terms with it. I can't thank them enough for their help.
Very true. When I had my chemo port and feeding tube removed I could go home and not have to come back daily for radiation or weekly for chemo. Returning to life without the routine and assurance of treatment felt quite cold and frightening for a while as you adjust to your new “normal” post cancer. There is immense joy, relief and gratitude that I was still here but the fears of recurrence, scanxiety and managing residual side effects of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (such as ongoing peripheral neuropathy, loss of saliva, taste and smell and hearing issues, along with fatigue, certainly made life interesting. Life takes on a new direction and you do the best you can. I am grateful for every new day