Moving Beyond Cancer
The end of treatment can be both exciting and stressful – for many,
it brings equal parts celebration and worry. You may find life returns
to what you knew before you had cancer, but for others, the physical and
emotional changes don’t all disappear with the last treatment.
Physical side effects, such as fatigue, lack of stamina, difficulty focusing,
or incontinence, can last for months after treatment ends. Emotional effects,
including fear of a cancer reoccurrence, dying young or leaving things
undone, can create ongoing anxiety or depression. Tackling these issues
is often easier with the help of experts.
Giving you the physical and emotional support you need to regain your quality
of life is what our
Cancer Rehabilitation and Wellness Program is all about. One of the few programs of its kind in the state, we successfully
help cancer survivors—whether living with cancer, in remission,
or cured—recover more completely and quickly. For more information
on how this program can help you, please call
While cancer treatment may have taken up much of your time and energy,
now you can focus on getting as healthy as possible and maybe even looking
at your life in new ways. Start making small changes that can improve
your well-being and health.
Don't Go it Alone
It’s not just during treatment that you will need to lean on others
for strength and comfort. Find sources of support from family, friends,
church groups or a counselor. Equally important, join a cancer support
here for meeting times). It can be extremely helpful to share experiences and
give and take advice from other cancer survivors. Whether a formal support
group, church friends, or a counselor, make sure you have a place to go
If you find yourself feeling anxious or worried, going it alone will only
make your sense of distress stronger. Being able to talk about your fears
with friends, family and other cancer survivors is a good starting point
for effective coping. If you need help finding the necessary support,
talk to one of our oncology social workers, our spiritual care team, or
your priest or pastor.
Regardless of how active you were prior to diagnosis, exercise after cancer
treatment can improve your fitness, increase muscle strength, reduce fatigue,
lessen anxiety, and make you feel better about yourself. There is some
evidence that a healthy weight, eating right, and being physically active
can help reduce the risk of cancer reoccurring as well as other serious
The American Cancer Society recommends that cancer survivors take these steps:
- Take part in regular physical activity
- Avoid inactivity and return to normal daily activities as soon as possible
- Exercise at least 150 minutes per week
- Include strength training exercises at least two days per week.
Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. This
is especially important if your treatment affected your lungs, your heart,
or if you are at risk for lung or heart disease. If you were inactive
before cancer treatment, you may need to start slowly, such as a short,
Be sure you understand what you can and can’t do - and get help.
While some people can safely begin or maintain their own exercise program,
many will have better results with support. We offer experts in exercise
and rehabilitation who specialize in helping cancer survivors get active.
Our Cancer Rehabilitation and Wellness Program will help you find the
type of exercise that’s right for you and offer the support and
encouragement you need. Call us at
One of the best things you can do after treatment is put healthy eating
habits into place. Try to eat five or more servings of vegetables and
fruits every day. Choose whole grain foods instead of white flour and
sugars. Replace red meat with fish and chicken. Stay away from hydrogenated
oils and saturated fats, and choose healthy fats like olive oil and avocados.
Cut back on processed meats like hot dogs, deli meats and bacon, and stock
up on beans, nuts and seeds.
Eating a nutrient-rich diet with plenty of fish, fruits and vegetables
can help you feel better and improve your health. If needed, it can also
help you lose weight. Obesity is linked with a higher risk of developing
some cancers, so use regular exercise and nutritious meals to get to a
If treatment side effects, such as loss of appetite, changes in taste,
or nausea, are getting in the way, try eating small meals every two hours
and talk to your doctor, or our oncology-certified registered dietitian,
about how to maximize your nutrition. At no charge, our experienced dietitian
will help you meet your individual goals.
A free class and support group is also available - called
Journey to Health - which provides education and camaraderie for those who have completed
treatment and want to improve their health and manage their weight. To
join, or to schedule a free appointment with our registered dietitian,
Checking in With Your Doctor
For years after treatment ends, you’ll see your doctor for follow-up.
Ask for and write down a proposed schedule for follow-up visits and the
recommended testing to monitor your recovery. You’ll also want to
know what signs to look for to detect a cancer reoccurrence as early as
possible and to recognize any long-term side effects of treatment. For
example, if you received a medication that might affect your bone density,
find out how your bones can be monitored in the future and what treatments
These check-ups and follow-up tests or scans are an important part of maintaining
your health and a chance for you to talk to your doctor about new questions
or issues. Yet it’s normal to feel anxious before appointments.
To help with the anxiety, write down any questions you have about symptoms,
emotional aspects of survivorship, or even practical issues. Ask a friend
or family member to sit with you while you wait for your scans or go with
you to doctors’ visits. In the days before your appointment, schedule
activities that can help distract you from worrying, such as an exercise
class and having lunch with a friend. Talk to your doctor or one of our
oncology social workers about how you can get help if your anxiety persists
or becomes overwhelming.
Moving on Emotionally
For many, there is the ever-present thought that at any moment, a scan
or test may move them from survivorship right back into active cancer
treatment. While that fear is completely normal, the unique challenge
facing survivors is to get on with living, celebrate the joys of the present,
and recognize when you need help - and ask for it.
Celebrate milestones, such as the anniversary of the end of chemotherapy,
the date of your cancer diagnosis, or the anniversary of the surgery to
treat your cancer. Consider volunteering for a non-profit organization
or a cancer mentoring program, or get involved in your church’s
outreach or mission efforts - find something meaningful to add to your life.
If you find yourself overwhelmed with anxiety or worry and unable to move
forward in your life, get help from one of our oncology social workers,
a counselor, or your priest or pastor.