You did it—you’ve come through treatment and now are cancer-free! What can you do now to support your good health? UR Medicine oncology nurse Alicia Coffin offers this advice.
- Keep up the good work. Eating a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and getting regular exercise can help cancer survivors stay healthy and reduce their risk of other issues such as heart disease and diabetes. And if you’re still smoking, it’s not too late to quit. Ask your doctor for resources to help.
- Keep your follow-up appointments. Having cancer puts you at risk for a recurrence and other health issues that can develop months or years after treatment. It’s important to maintain your relationship with your oncology team and to keep any follow-up visits so they can monitor any changes in your health.
- Keep checking. Continue having recommended screenings for other types of cancer. Regular mammograms and colonoscopies, for example, are still important even if you had a different kind of cancer.
- Keep in touch. Completing treatment is a cause for celebration, but it can also be daunting. Reach out for emotional support after treatment. Your care team can connect you with the best resources to help you address the stress, anxiety and depression that can come with cancer survivorship.
Living with cancer can change your priorities and the way you see the world. It may give you a new purpose and self-awareness, and it gives you particular knowledge that can be found no other way. Embrace your new sense of self, channeling that drive and expertise as you navigate the opportunities of life after cancer.
Alicia Coffin, RN, is an oncology nurse and survivorship specialist at UR Medicine’s Wilmot Cancer Center.