Cancer of any type isn’t more than just a physical problem that affects your body. Uncertainties and fear combined with physical limitations left after treatment can create a challenging list of mental and emotional struggles as well. For some, surviving through cancer has given them a new, more positive lease on life. For men and women living after lung cancer, there are a variety of options to help you feel better and live a more confident, full life. Here are 3 ways you can move forward:
Trust in your advocate. Patient advocates can be anyone you know well—like a friend or spouse—or someone you hire to help you navigate the complex medical information you face during cancer treatment. But these people are still great to have around afterward, too. It’s not uncommon after treatment to think of questions you just were too overwhelmed to ask before and it’s nice to have the knowledge and support of your advocate as you process all that the weeks and months before brought your way. A professional advocate may also be able to connect you to local support groups that you can meet in person or groups online if you want to get to know others with the same concerns.
Redefine “normal”. Your lifestyle before cancer treatment may not be what it is afterward. That’s okay. Remember that your new “normal” isn’t what it was before and it’s time to find compromise. If your doctors and nurses don’t teach you what to expect, you may have unrealistic expectations of healing and wellness that your body simply can’t meet. Give yourself time to heal—slowly if needed—and let go of some of what you knew in favor of what works for you now. This doesn’t mean giving up activities you loved, just finding ways to adjust them to what your body can do now.
Build a wellness plan for the future. You wouldn’t be normal if you didn’t fear a cancer recurrence. That’s one battle just about every cancer survivor faces. To help combat this fear, some people choose to start a new wellness plan—turning over a new leaf if you will—toward better lifestyle choices. This may include changing the way you eat, cutting out cigarettes or alcohol, and starting a new exercise plan. Another key part of wellness is keeping your follow up appointments and tests as your doctor recommends. He or she may also suggest liquid biopsy cancer screening tests to monitor your health and keep track of any changes if they should occur. Whatever treatment plan is in place, follow it. Keep your appointments and always ask questions if you are unsure about the plan.
Remember that no two people will have the same cancer experience—the stage of your cancer at diagnosis makes a big difference in the type of treatments you’ll need and how you’ll heal afterward. Be patient with yourself, lean on trusted friends, family, and your medical team and take one day at a time toward a better life after cancer.