Life After Cancer – Part 2.

When cancer treatment ends, people begin a new chapter in their lives, one that can bring hope and happiness, but also worries and fear. No two people are alike. Each person has his or her own way of coping and learning to manage these emotions. It will take time and practice.


Health problems from cancer treatment

Some cancer treatments may cause health problems later on. These may be called long-term side effects. These problems might not appear right away and some don’t show up until years after treatment. Ask your cancer care team:

  • If the treatments you had put you at risk for short- or long-term health problems
  • What those problems are and how you can recognize them
  • What you should do if you notice them
  • What you can do to be as healthy as you can


Still, don’t hesitate to ask any questions you have and find out what you need to know about possible problems related to your cancer treatment.


Get support

Emotional support can be a powerful tool for both cancer survivors and their families. Talking with others who are in situations like yours can help ease loneliness. You can also get useful ideas from others that might help you.


There are many kinds of support programs, including individual or group counseling and support groups.


Support in any form allows you to express your feelings and develop coping skills. Studies have found that people who take part in support groups have an improved quality of life, including better sleep and appetite. Contact your American Cancer Society to find out about available sources of support where you live.


Support groups

Some groups are formal and focus on learning about cancer or dealing with feelings. Others are informal and social. Some groups are made up of only people with cancer or only caregivers, while some include spouses, family members, or friends. Other groups focus on certain types of cancer or stages of disease. The length of time groups meet can range from a set number of weeks to an ongoing program. Some programs have closed membership and others are open to new, drop-in members.


It’s very important that you get information about any support group you are considering. Ask the group leader or facilitator what types of patients are in the group and if anyone in the group is dealing with survival after cancer.


Online support groups may be another option for support. The Cancer Survivors Network, an online support community supported by your American Cancer Society is just one example. You can visit this community at There are many other good communities on the Internet that you can join as well, although you’ll want to check them out before joining.



Some people feel better having a person-to-person connection with a counselor who can give one-on-one attention and encouragement. Your cancer care team may be able to recommend a counselor who works with cancer survivors.


Spirituality and religion

Religion can be a great source of strength for some people. Some find new faith during a cancer experience. Others find that cancer informs their existing faith or their faith provides newfound strength. Still others find themselves questioning their faith. If you are a religious person, a minister, rabbi, other leader of your faith, or a trained pastoral counselor can help you identify your spiritual needs and find spiritual support. Some members of the clergy are specially trained to help minister to people with cancer and their families.


Spirituality is important to many people, even those who don’t practice a formal religion. Many people are comforted by recognizing that they’re part of something greater than themselves, which helps them find meaning in life. Spiritual practices can help foster connection to others, to the present moment, and to the sacred or significant. Meditation, practicing gratitude, helping others, and spending time in nature are just a few of the many ways that people address spiritual needs.


Bottom line

Keep in mind that you are a cancer survivor and remember the good news: You are one of millions of Americans alive today who has had cancer, and the survival rate is improving all the time. Like most of them, you and the people around you can adjust to and lead a fulfilling life after cancer.


To learn more

We have a lot more information that you might find helpful. Explore or call our National Cancer Information Center toll-free number, 1-800-227-2345. We’re here to help you any time, day or night.