NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Part 7: Beyond cancer treatment
7.1 Becoming a “cancer patient”
Hearing “you have cancer” is likely to be life-changing.
Some challenges may include managing doctor visits,
figuring out how to care for your kids, missing work, and
feeling a loss of control. Some people try to keep their
life as normal as they can. Others change their life a lot.
However, many cancer survivors will tell you that during
the active treatment period, being a patient is your job.
It’s a job that requires much time and energy. This can be
hard. Accept the support offered to you and reach out for
more help if you need it. Many people are willing to help
7.2 Getting enough sleep
You may have already lost some nights of sleep. This
is common. The stress of learning that you have cancer
and deciding a treatment plan takes its toll. You may
lose more sleep while waiting to have treatment and
during recovery. Getting less sleep can affect your mood,
conversations, and ability to do things. If possible, allow
yourself to rest, let people do things for you, and talk with
your doctor about sleep medication. Behavioral sleep
medicine—a type of talk therapy—may also help.
7.3 Anxiety and depression
Feelings of anxiety and depression are common among
people with cancer. You may feel anxious before testing
and while waiting for the results. Likewise, you may have
a passing depression during a hard part of treatment.
Feeling distressed may be a minor problem or it may be
more serious. Serious or not, tell your treatment team so
that you can get help if needed. Help can include support
groups, talk therapy, or medication. Some people also
feel better by exercising, talking with loved ones,
or relaxing. Your treatment team has information to
7.4 View of self
Some people blame themselves for getting cancer.
However, exactly what causes melanoma skin cancer
is unknown. Instead of blaming yourself, try to focus on
getting better. Undergoing cancer treatment can be hard.
You’ll have a lot to deal with without the blame.
After treatment, some people dislike their looks because
of side effects. Common concerns include hair loss from
chemotherapy and scars from surgery. It can be difficult
to adapt to these changes. You may also be concerned
with what your partner thinks. Partners may stop showing
their love because they are unsure of what to do. They
may also think of themselves as more of a caregiver than
a partner during treatment. Sharing what you need and
want can help your partner and yourself.
7.5 Taking care of your body
Healthy eating is always important. This includes eating
a balanced diet, eating the right amount of food, and
drinking enough fluids. However, you may have special
food needs during and after treatment. A nutritionist—an
expert in creating a healthy diet—can help.