After the Treatment

Completing your treatment programme represents a significant watershed for you and those close to you. You have probably been counting the days to the last session of chemotherapy or radiotherapy and looking forward to the end of those frequent hospital visits. It can therefore be shocking to discover that instead of feeling overjoyed, it is possible to encounter a very different reaction.

However demanding the regime, however unpleasant the side effects, you have been cared for by a team of doctors and nurses who have become familiar to you and who, in the hospital setting, have provided a sense of security which at the time you may not have been aware of.

With discharge, your relationship to the team changes. As a result you may feel very vulnerable and bereft. All the emotions that were partially eclipsed by the physical demands of the disease may suddenly assail you at the very point when everyone around you expects you to be ‘getting over it’ or ‘moving on’.

You may feel very anxious or emotional or experience a great sense of lassitude.

All this is entirely normal. A cancer diagnosis is traumatic and it is likely that you have got through the last weeks and months in a state of shock. As this lifts, the reality of what has happened can suddenly hit you. The fact that your family and friends do not understand why you are feeling as you do may increase your sense of isolation.

If this is your experience, it is important to know that it is very common. You need time to recover both physically and mentally. Support groups, patient-to-patient links, online forums can all be useful at this point. Dr Peter Harvey, a psychologist who has specialised in supporting cancer patients has written a very helpful article which describes this transition in depth (see below). If you continue to feel overwhelmed, counselling with a therapist who is familiar with cancer can make a real difference to the way you adjust to life after treatment.

Useful links:

For the Peter Harvey article AFTER THE TREATMENT FINISHES – THEN WHAT? visit