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Finding your new normal


What can you expect from life after cancer treatment?

Many young people and families think or hope that life will go back to the way it was once cancer treatment ends. However, we know that it is less a process of going back to normal, and more about finding a ‘new normal’. Often people find they are struggling with life after cancer, because it is hard to know what to expect in those first few months after treatment ends; it’s a huge adjustment. This can be particularly challenging because you may be having thoughts like, “Will I even feel normal again after chemo?”, and “What now?” – while well-meaning friends and family are saying how grateful or relieved they are. The process of adapting to a new season in life can take some time, maybe months, maybe years, and it can be different for everyone.

Cancer is a life-altering experience. We know that many people find life after cancer treatment a challenging adjustment, both physically and mentally. Many people have lasting side effects from treatment; their appearance may still be shifting and changing; and mentally their perspective on life is often considerably different. Whatever the situation is for you, know that this time can feel hard, because it is hard. You will find your new normal (and Connect is here to help)!

Different people find different things useful during this adjustment phase, but here are some ideas that might help:

- Focus on looking after yourself, mentally and physically – give yourself some time and some space to do things that nourish you, or make you feel good. This is especially important if you are restarting things like work, study, or when moving back home.

- Acknowledge that difficult feelings will come up, and at times your mind will throw out worries about the cancer coming back. That’s completely normal. Find strategies to move through these times… you might try some deep breathing, journaling, going for a walk or to a place you feel at ease, something creative etc.

- You might have skills you had to develop when getting through tough days of cancer treatment that you find are helpful here (listening to podcasts, reading, doing sudokus, even crochet are some we’ve heard about!)

- Connect with other people who have been through a similar experience and who understand what you are going through – having someone who can relate to you when it’s a tricky day can be a game changer.

- Counselling can be useful too, to develop coping skills, and make sense of what matters to you now.

Lots of these things are also incredibly helpful and important for people who have lived through a loved one’s cancer journey also. We would love to know what you found helpful in life after cancer treatment - share your thoughts and suggestions below!

By Ruby P, Online Counsellor, Canteen Australia