How to get back to normal after beating cancer
Once treatment is over, the process of readapting to your daily routine begins – this can exciting and also full of uncertainty. Here we explain how to manage it.
World Cancer Day is celebrated on 4 February to raise awareness and mobilise society to make progress in the prevention and control of this disease whose incidence is increasing every year and which, according to data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, will affect more than 30 million people worldwide by 2040. Although it is true that the number of detected cases is growing, it is also true that, thanks to early diagnosis and medical, technical and scientific advances, there has been a significant increase in the five-year survival rate.
Once treatment is complete, returning to a daily routine can be challenging and a little overwhelming. As Cinthya Molina, psychologist at SHA Wellness Clinic, says, “a process of adaptation to a new normal begins, and while it may seem simple and full of joy, it can also be slow and provoke some fears. It is important to reflect on what has happened because, during treatment, emotions come one after another and stopping to address them helps people to integrate them, reinterpret them and fit them into their lives. It’s then that you realise that life isn’t the same as where you left it, but that it has continued to move forward. During treatment, all roles (family, social, work) are abandoned, but when treatment ends, the person has changed and, therefore, so have the roles. This is the so-called post-traumatic growth, which consists of a change in values and priorities as a consequence of having faced the frightening reality of the unpredictability of life and the management of uncertainty. This causes the person to embark on projects they never thought they would undertake, such as changing jobs, and which, before the illness, they probably wouldn’t have had the courage to do. This new era is faced with great enthusiasm, but at the same time it is not free of fears that need to be managed. That is precisely what being resilient is all about, taking advantage of life’s difficult moments to make the most of them and emerge from them empowered”.
To make the process of adapting to the new normal more bearable, Cinthya recommends “living in the present, the here and now, spending more time with your loved ones and talking about your feelings. Cancer is often like a sieve that separates the good relationships from the bad ones. In addition, it is very important to improve self-care: take care of your diet, sleep and rest, get physical exercise, have good mental hygiene and maintain a proactive attitude, respecting one’s own rhythm. In other words, translating the changes you’ve been planning into action. In short, and despite the difficulties, it is possible to return to normal life after having beat cancer. Perhaps not the same as before, but even better”.