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life after cancer



While there's much to celebrate and look forward to after a young person’s cancer treatment ends, it can also help to know about some of the ways the future may look different. 

managing change

By now, you’ll be well and truly aware of how cancer can mess up plans. Short- or long-term goals might have be delayed, or need to be reconsidered or redefined. It’s not uncommon for school to take longer, or for young adults to change their career paths.

 

As a supporter, you can help them by reminding them that change isn’t always negative. They may have found new opportunities and made new connections through their cancer experience, and many young people will find new skills and personal strengths they didn’t know they had.

a new term: “cancer survivor” 

At some point after treatment, people who have had cancer might start being called “survivors”. Different people use this word in different ways. The term “cancer survivor” is helpful for some people, and it can allow people to tap into support specifically related to “survivorship”. It can also give people who’ve faced cancer a strong sense of identity. For others, it doesn’t quite fit or do justice to how complex cancer is. Of course, it’s up to you how you use it.

check-ups and appointments 

Some people find it difficult to go back to where their treatment took place for check-ups after treatment is finished. No matter how standard these appointments are, they can easily cause anxiety. Here are some things that may help: 

  • Take control of appointments by keeping copies of all records
  • Build a good relationships with a GP you trust who knows your family’s history
  • See these check-ups as a chance to ask questions and raise any issues that have been on your mind

We know these things won’t take away the fear of cancer coming back, but they may help to make the best of a tough situation.

transitioning from paediatric to adult treatment

Depending on their age, a young person may “transition” from the paediatric to the adult system at some point. While children’s hospitals tend to only treat new patients up to the age of 16, there is no set age at which someone who has been treated in a children's hospital will transition to an adult service.

 

Transitioning is a process and there’s often a team there to help your family do it over months or even years. Most hospitals have a transition coordinator who will support you. Even so, it can be daunting to think of your child in an unfamiliar hospital with a different team of doctors. They may be attending appointments without you and be completely responsible for their own health care for the first time.

 

To make this process easier:

  • Make sure you have a copy of all medical records
  • Talk to your transition coordinator or hospital social worker about what to expect and when things might happen
  • Have a contact list of both your old and new doctors
  • Make sure the young person feels confident explaining their cancer and treatment to someone new

Don't forget, the Redkite support team are still here for you after treatment is finished

Last updated September 2015.