Think Beyond Cancer

Many cancer survivors have told us that while they felt they had lots of information and support during their illness, once treatment stopped, they entered a whole new world.

This section aims to help and support people who have finished all the recommended treatments for their particular cancer - chemotherapy , radiotherapy , surgery or a combination of these.

You now have the chance to look at how you want to live in the future. You may want to do things you've often thought about but never done, perhaps visit places you've always dreamed about, or enrich personal relationships. This can be exciting, but we understand that you may not feel quite so confident.

Beginning to recover after cancer treatment
Now your cancer treatment has ended, you may feel ready to get on with your life and look forward to the future.

But it's common to have days when you feel less positive or still feel some of the effects of treatment.

To begin with it's important not to expect too much of yourself and to accept that it takes time to recover. If you think about everything you've been through, then it's not surprising that your recovery is likely to be gradual.

You may have new challenges to cope with, such as physical effects as a result of your cancer or its treatment. It usually takes time to adjust to these and to find out what's now normal for you.

Although your treatment is over you'll still see your specialist regularly. It's important to remember there's support available to help you with any physical or emotional problems you have.

Many people find that over time they settle back into their usual routines. You'll probably want to think about planning a holiday, seeing friends, getting out more, getting back to hobbies or sport, and when to go back to work.

The experience of cancer may also make you think about what's important in your life and you may make positive changes as a result.

You may find that your experience of cancer has improved and strengthened your relationships with people close to you. We've listed some of the issues that sometimes arise in relationships and some ways of coping with these.

You may feel that you wouldn't have been able to cope so well without the support you've had from family and friends.

However, cancer is stressful and this sometimes has an effect on your relationships. Any problems usually improve over time, especially if you can talk openly with each other.

After your treatment you may sometimes feel that your family and friends don't understand if you aren't feeling positive about getting on with things. They may not know how to behave towards you now that your treatment is over.

Talking openly about how you're feeling will help them to understand you better and give you the support you need.

If you feel your family and friends aren't as attentive as they were when you were going through the treatment it's usually because they need time to rest. It doesn't mean that they don't care about you.

Eating well after cancer treatment
It explains why diet is important and has tips on how to eat well and maintain a healthy body weight.

After experiencing cancer, many people want to make positive changes to their lives. Taking steps to live a healthier lifestyle is often a major part of these changes.

Experts think that up to 1 in 4 cancers in developed countries may be linked to diet. There's a lot of research being done at the moment into what types of food may affect our risk of developing cancer. But, despite this, we still don't understand exactly how diet influences the risk of cancer.

There are many reasons for this uncertainty - mainly to do with the complex nature of cancer itself and of our diets. Eating habits vary greatly from person to person. Our diets are made up of many types of foods, which in turn are made up of thousands of different substances.

Some of these substances may increase our risk of cancer but others may protect us. And the influence on what we eat, and our risk of cancer, is likely to take many years or even decades to have an effect. So trying to find out how diet affects cancer risk is complicated.

Exercise after cancer treatment
This information has been written for you if you are living with or after cancer and would like to know more about the benefits of exercise and being physically active. Following a cancer experience many people want to make positive changes to their lives. Taking steps to live a healthier lifestyle is often a major part of these changes.

Regular exercise helps people lose weight and feel fitter.

It can also improve their self esteem and sense of wellbeing. Exercise is routinely used to help people recover from heart disease. There's now evidence about the benefits of exercise for cancer survivors.

It's often difficult enough for people without health problems to increase their physical activity. Inactivity causes our muscles to lose strength and work less well. It can also increase feelings of extreme tiredness (fatigue), stress and anxiety. Even a little regular exercise can build up your energy levels (stamina) and help you feel better. Exercise also helps people cope with treatment side effects and cancer symptoms.

You may have a cancer that's curable or that can be controlled for many years. Looking after your general health is important. Regular exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and bone thinning (osteoporosis).

Keeping to a healthy weight may reduce your risk of getting another new (primary) cancer. Some cancers are linked to being very overweight. In certain cancers exercise and maintaining a healthy weight may reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.

Dealing with physical effects after cancer treatment
You may find that you recover quite quickly and get back to doing the things you did before. But sometimes people have physical effects that take longer to improve or that are permanent. If this is the case for you, it's important to give yourself time to adjust and to pace yourself.

Some people have body changes or physical effects as a result of treatment.

It can take time to adjust if you've had a part of your body removed (such as a breast or a limb) to treat the cancer. People who've had an operation that results in an artificial opening such as a colostomy, ileostomy or tracheostomy, might worry about looking after it, or the possibility of something going wrong. They may also worry that people will avoid them.

Ask Think Beyond Cancer