While your friends and family are busy celebrating your ‘all-clear’, you could find yourself getting into a deeper thought process about what it means to be cancer-free. It’s common for cancer patients to reflect on the past and worry about what the future holds or how to live their lives, now they’ve finally beaten the disease.
Soul searching can be a good thing - it allows you to think about the choices you have open to you, so you can make carefully considered decisions about how you want to live your life now that the cancer is behind you.
When you’ve finished treatment the world becomes your oyster – but there are some important questions you may want to ask yourself in order to help optimize your long-term health, such as:
Am I eating a balanced diet?
It’s OK to have the occasional cheat day but overall, it’s important to eat a healthy balanced diet that will correctly fuel your body and keep your immune system in good shape.
This will reduce your chances of contracting everyday ailments and more serious conditions, plus help you look and feel good too!
So, make sure you’re packing in plenty of vitamins and minerals each day, and reserve sugary and fatty treats for special occasions. Here are some great healthy recipe ideas that we recommend for patients going through chemo, but which work just as well if you’re in recovery.
Am I taking enough exercise?
It is not just what you fuel your body with that keeps you healthy; how you use your body and stimulate it physically can impact your overall health and wellbeing.
To live a fit and healthy life, experts recommend that you try to raise your heart rate five times a week, for 25 minutes at a time. This can be through any type of exercise. You may enjoy walking, running, or swimming, but what about trying something a little more unusual such as climbing, salsa dancing or practicing a martial art?!
In addition to helping you get fit or stay in shape, regular exercise has multiple health benefits, including improving your circulation, helping to boost your mood and making you feel good about both yourself and this new chapter in your life.
Am I keeping check on my emotional wellbeing?
We all know that physical health takes a beating during cancer treatment, but chemotherapy is also mentally grueling. Therefore, it’s important to ‘check-in’ with yourself on a regular basis, to think about how well you are processing the emotional impact of surviving cancer.
Find ways to look after your mental health and process your post-cancer feelings. You may find it helpful to manage your emotions privately, by keeping a daily journal. Alternatively, you may benefit from the knowledge of others, arranging to see a regular counselor, attending support group sessions, or connecting with other recovering cancer patients in online forums.
Am I planning to have children in future?
Many people survive cancer and go on to have a healthy family, but chemotherapy can impact your chances of conceiving. Therefore, it is important to think carefully about if or when you hope to have children, and seek advice from your doctor as soon as babies are on the radar.
To find out more – including how long you should wait after chemo before you start trying for a family – read our blog on cancer & fertility.
Am I satisfied with my life?
Many people realize during cancer treatment that their life priorities aren’t quite what they were or where they want them to be. After being given the all-clear, don’t slip back into old routines; have the confidence to start afresh.
Remember all the promises you made to yourself during treatment, and strive for the lifestyle you really want.
What did you change about your lifestyle after entering remission? Share your experiences on our Facebook page.