You’ve officially reached cancer survivor status. No more frequent visits to the cancer center for treatment or check-ins with your cancer care team. While this is certainly good news, it can still be a little unnerving now that you’re “on your own.” You might even be wondering, “What comes next?”
It’s understandable that you may have mixed emotions ranging from excited and grateful to anxious or scared. Considering that every survivor and their circumstances are different, that’s completely normal! Transitioning back to a “normal” life doesn’t happen overnight and sometimes requires a little help. In most cases, your cancer care team will spend time helping you with the next steps. Whether you have professional help or not, here are some steps to take after cancer treatment is over.
Get a Follow-Up Care Plan
Once your cancer treatment comes to an end, you won’t see your cancer team as much. However, you’ll still need to see them for follow-up care. Together, you and your cancer team will work to set and understand milestones and follow-up appointments that need to happen after your treatments are complete. With their guidance, you can also get familiar with what to expect, including how to alleviate the fear of recurrence, which is a common source of anxiety for survivors.
With less need for your cancer care team, you’ll once again rely more often on doctors outside of oncology for your routine medical needs. Be sure to inform all of your doctors about the type of cancer you had and how your cancer was treated. This will give them a better idea of what to watch for since cancer treatments can cause side effects that show up months or years after treatment ends. Make sure you have detailed copies of your personal health records you can share with your doctors.
Get Emotional Support
It’s likely you had a lot of support as a patient. The good news is that it doesn’t end now that you’re a survivor. No one understands how you’re feeling like other survivors who have walked a similar path. Minnesota Oncology’s Survivorship Program, as well as survivor support groups, are safe spaces to discuss struggles, worries, and emotions that are common after treatment ends.
Remember, any major life change can be a bit scary and it’s normal that you may fear this transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor. Keep in mind that we at Minnesota Oncology are here for you, striving to help you get all you need to transition into your new cancer survivor role.