NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults - page 85

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Part 8: Moving beyond treatment
Finishing treatment is a major milestone in your cancer
journey: a time to say goodbye to the cycle of treatments,
side effects, and tests and to get back to normal.
But the “normal” of post-treatment life won’t be quite the
same as life before your diagnosis. Cancer changes
you. Some people have described survivorship as
“being disease free, but not free of disease.” As a cancer
survivor, you have a new perspective, new worries, and
new strengths that will influence every day of your life.
Adjusting to this “new normal” isn’t always easy, but
preparation and planning can smooth the transition and
help you make the most of the next phase of the journey.
I remember being told, ‘You’re cured. Go
home. Get on with your life.’ Evidently,
that’s not necessarily the end of the
story for me or millions of others like
me. I do not deny that the physical
malignancy is gone. It’s been 11 years and
there is still no evidence of biological
recurrence. So everything is hunky dory,
right? Ummm . . . no.”
Matthew, brain cancer survivor, diagnosed at age 21
Preparing for the transition
During treatment, your oncology team, family, and friends
likely were a pretty constant source of information and
support. Even though you’re no longer actively fighting
cancer, you’ll need many of these supports as you
continue along the road of cancer survivorship.
After months of spending way too much time with various
medical people, you may want to take a break from
doctors for a bit. That’s understandable. But regular
follow-up is critical to protecting your long-term health.
Your physician will probably want to check for
recurrences and other medical problems every month
or two for the first year or so. If all goes well, that may
eventually drop down to once a year.
Follow-up is important because treatment-induced
damage can cause health problems that last long after
treatment is over. Depending on your treatment plan,
survivorship problems may include:
Difficulties with memory or concentration,
Neuropathy (pain/numbness in hands and feet),
Lymphedema (swelling in arms or legs),
Dry mouth,
Menopause symptoms (hot flashes, sleep difficulties,
mood swings, vaginal dryness, etc.),
Difficulty swallowing.
NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults
Version 2013
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