This is one of my favorite topics. What happens when treatment concludes? As much as we don't like chemotherapy or daily radiation, we feel protected. In addition to the reassurance of those circulating drugs or powerful beams, we see a lot of our caregivers. Especially during radiation therapy, it is a daily routine. If there are questions, there can be an immediate answer. There is always ready comfort. Do you remember that iconic poster of the kitten hanging off the end of a tree branch? That is how most of us feel when the active treatment is done.
Another unpleasant surprise is that it takes quite a while--the rule of thumb is the same time as the total duration of your treatment--to feel fully physically and emotionally recovered. And, for some women, it takes even longer. You can be pretty sure that the people around you, family and friends, will be unaware of this and probably have less than saintly patience with this timetable. Instead, the usual expectation is that you are back to fully normal the day after your last medical appointment.
As many of you know, I have written a book: After Breast Cancer: A Commonsense Guide to Life After Treatment that addresses all of the associated issues. It has done well enough to justify a second edition, and, with some discomfort, I recommend it to you. There is also this very short read, a column, that I just wrote for Cancer Today. Here is the start and a link to read more (and to subscribe for free, if you want, to this helpful quarterly publication):
My Treatment Is Over: Now What?
Be patient with yourself while adjusting to life after treatment.
By Hester Hill Schnipper
Many people are shocked to discover that the days, weeks and even months after cancer treatment is over can be more challenging than the treatment itself. Of course, the physical insults lessen, and we gradually regain energy and, in cases where treatment involves some types of chemotherapy, hair. The emotional fallout, however, persists long after surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.