When treatment ends, families are sometimes unprepared for the amount of time recovery can take. Recovery often lasts longer than your treatment, which can lead to worry and frustration for everyone. It may also be difficult for your friends and family to understand the support you will need as a survivor.
Your post-treatment recovery, and your life as a survivor, are personal experiences that take time to figure out. Be honest with yourself and others, and don’t be afraid to ask for support. It will be helpful to both you and your loved ones to keep them informed about your cancer, and involved in your recovery.
Here are some common issues people have shared with us:
- – People expect you to bounce back to who you were before cancer. The reality is, you’re likely not physically or emotionally who you were before cancer and are no longer able to do all the things you once did. You may be able to one day – but this might take months or years. It’s important to be patient and to be open and honest with others about what you can and cannot do.
- – You still need the support of friends and family. This doesn’t sound like it should be an issue, but often survivors feel guilty about asking for support when they are recovering or in remission. It’s common to feel that others have already done so much and to feel guilty for asking for more help. In most cases, however, keeping loved ones involved in your recovery and your life after cancer continues to make everyone stronger.
- – You expect more from your loved ones than you receive. Your family and friends may disappoint you, which can be frustrating. The attention you received during treatment may have lessened since the ending of your active treatment. Be open and honest with loved ones about how you are feeling, and ask for support and help when you need it.
- – Understanding the dynamics of survivorship relationships. At the same time that you are physically and emotionally recovering from the roller coaster of melanoma, your family is also adjusting. Loved ones are still coping with the stress and changes that the cancer journey took everyone on. They too need time to understand what they went through, and what support they may need as caregivers. It may be hard for family and friends to express feelings or know how to talk about what each person went through. It’s important to ask for help from a professional if your family or friends feel they need outside support. Ask your doctor to refer you to a counselor or expert on family concerns after cancer.