Your treatment team continues to support you in remission.
After dealing with the stress of a cancer diagnosis and treatment, many patients look forward to the day that their treatment stops. However, the journey doesn’t necessarily end after lung cancer treatment. This may sound intimidating, but your treatment team will continue to support you in remission.
Self-Care After Lung Cancer Treatment
For starters, patients should anticipate that the stress and anxiety of cancer won’t necessarily go away after treatment. The end of treatment can be a relief and is a reason to celebrate. However, you may have stress or nerves about the cancer coming back.
Waiting is the only way to know if cancer can come back. Some patients even miss getting treatments because it felt like they were actively “doing something” to attack the cancer. When treatment stops, they may feel powerless.
These feelings may surprise you, but they are common and normal. In fact, you can find support groups specifically for survivors of cancer. You may find it helpful to seek out these groups, or the mental health professional, where you can talk about these emotions.
Plus, don’t hesitate to be honest with your loved ones about how they can support you. Some patients find it helpful to talk about their cancer experience with their friends and family; others don’t. If you don’t want to talk about it, be vocal. Your friends and family want to know the best way to support you.
Survivorship After Cancer
The process of checking on your health after cancer is known as survivorship care. Most notably, this includes surveillance, or checking regularly for signs that the cancer is coming back. These follow-up appointments may be more frequent in the beginning (every three months) and become less frequent (every year or two).
The other part of survivorship is monitoring for long-term side effects of cancer treatments. While the therapies can be life-saving, they may have lingering effects on your normal, healthy cells. In your follow-up visits, your treatment team will keep an eye on your overall health to check for any problems.
Support During Remission
You don’t have to go through the journey after lung cancer treatment by yourself. Your cancer team will continue to play an important role in your health when treatment stops. You should feel comfortable reaching out for anything, whether you need reassurance or want to schedule a checkup for a concerning new symptom.
Stefan Balan, MD, is an oncologist at RWJBarnabas Health in Jersey City, NJ.