Health Matters

Back to Campus: Tips for Returning to College After a Cancer Diagnosis

Aug. 24, 2015
It’s that time of year when college students leave their summer internships or jobs and return to campus for classes. Getting back into college in the fall is an adjustment for any student. For those who have had a cancer diagnosis, returning to class can be especially difficult.
young, male college student at computer
Wilmot Cancer Institute's Survivorship team shares some tips for survivors and patients returning to college. 
  1. Get enough sleep. This is a priority for anyone, but especially those recovering from treatment because sleep is the prime time for your body to balance hormone levels and brain activity. Having a healthy amount of sleep also helps you to better manage stress and impacts cell regeneration, which is important as your body continues to heal and recover. 
  2. Nourish yourself. Your body needs nutrients to heal and have the energy needed for a long day at school, so make a point to eat well. Proteins are the building blocks of life.
  3. Protect your body. During and after cancer treatment your body’s immune system is still not what it used to be. Make sure to wash your hands often and rest when you need to. Ask your doctor if you need to be vaccinated, and stay away from other students who are or might be sick.  
  4. Ease into it. Resist the urge to push yourself back into a “normal” world with a semester full of classes. Start with a light workload and give yourself time to adjust. Putting too much pressure on yourself could become overwhelming and could induce too much stress.
  5. Have a go-to friend. You’re a whole new you since cancer became a part of your life. You may want to change majors, or you might feel like you don’t fit in with the same crowd anymore. This is normal and OK to feel. It’s important to have someone you can vent to and who can help you through this confusing time. 
  6. Make time for fun. Life is a balance of work time and play time. Remember to make time on your calendar for social events.
  7. Look into scholarships. Many survivors have found that being treated for cancer can not only be emotionally draining, but financially draining as well. There are many scholarships that can help with education and other financial concerns. Make an appointment with your school counselor to find out what is available.