Recover Making Sense of Breast Cancer What you Should Expect After Treatment
After all the surgeries, the chemotherapy, the radiation treatments and so on are over, you probably asked yourself, “What will my life be like after breast cancer treatment ends?” “Where do I go from here? What should I expect?”
Well, you can expect that some things in your life (and about you) will be different than before your diagnosis and treatment. Whether you embrace the concept of being a survivor or not, your life, in some way, has been altered by your breast cancer experience.
In moving forward with your life after breast cancer treatment, it is important that you allow adequate time to recover. Be patient -- you won’t return to normal overnight. And, you should expect that your periodic follow up visits to your doctor(s) and all the diagnostic tests will continue indefinitely, or at least until otherwise instructed by your doctor.
It is easy to assume that you can pick up your life where you left off before your diagnosis, and you’re probably eager to do it. This is possible to some extent, and some women are very successful in doing so. However, the reality is that you and your body, in some ways, will never be the same.
You may experience physical changes resulting from surgery or chemotherapy or radiation, or whatever treatment you have received. There could be a change in your appearance, your energy level and stamina or your capacity for work and play.
Some women experience issues with the following after their breast cancer
All of these are treatable conditions, of course, and you can recover from most of them, but not all are reversible or curable.
For example, there is no known cure for lymphedema, an abnormal buildup of fluid that causes swelling, most often in the arms or legs. This condition develops when lymph vessels or lymph nodes are removed, which commonly occurs during a lumpectomy or mastectomy.
According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, while lymphedema after breast cancer occurs in about 42 percent of survivors, only about 12 percent reported moderate/severe lymphedema, and 2 percent reported chronically moderate/severe.
You may also experience emotional changes that result from transitioning from being under the full care of your medical team to being on your own, with periodic follow-up visits to the doctor, in managing your recovery.
It is possible that mentally you may experience some challenges, especially if you have chemotherapy. Memory loss is a common aftereffect. This is temporary, but in most cases it takes a few months to completely regain your cognitive thinking skills.
And, spiritually, you may question why this happened to you. In some ways it could be a test of your faith, but figuring that out is all part of your personal journey.
Consequently, you may discover that taking a more holistic approach -- managing your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being -- is even more critical to your life after breast cancer treatment.
At Breast Cancer Partner, we know that recovery can often be a long, arduous journey, but you’re not alone in this process. We are here to help you navigate your way through recovery after treatment, and we offer tools and resources to help you make better choices about your health and wellness.
In addition, our website offers resources to assist you with issues related to:
Living your life after treatment
To understand more about what you should expect after breast cancer treatment, the Mayo Clinic has very useful information on managing late effects of cancer treatment.