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Resources

Finishing cancer treatment

Finishing cancer treatment can also bring up unexpected feelings and responses. It takes time to adjust, and we’re here to support you.

You have finished your treatment, or you’re the parent of a child who has finished and reached a massive milestone. This is your time to reflect on what you’ve been through. Finishing treatment can also bring up unexpected feelings and responses. It takes time to adjust. 

Finding a new normal

Even after treatment ends, normal can still seem very far away. Wanting to have everything back the way it was before cancer is completely understandable. Many people also talk about struggling with the expectations of others who want them to be their old selves.

But instead of trying to pretend everything is back to the way it was, it may help to acknowledge that everyone has been changed by the experience.

“New normal” is the term that a lot of people use to describe life after cancer. It means recognising how you live now, rather than trying to recreate the past. While it may seem strange at first, you’ll find new routines as things settle.

Finishing treatment brings up a whole range of feelings, from relief to guilt. It’s okay, these feelings are all common.

Returning to school

Going back to school after a long break can be daunting. You might be worried about being too tired to concentrate, feeling out of the loop with friends, and looking different after treatment.

Parents: protective or over-protective?

After everything that’s happened, your parents might want to keep you close and protect you as much as possible.

This is natural, but it can be good for you and them to start building up your independence. Go gently on them… they’ve been with you through all of this and it will be hard for them to let you go.

For you and them, this will take a level of courage most people won’t understand if they haven’t been through cancer. Don’t forget, the Redkite support team is here for you and for anyone who wants to talk about this part of finishing treatment.

A new term: “cancer survivor”

At some point after treatment, you might start being called a “cancer survivor”. Different people use this word in different ways.

The term “cancer survivor” is helpful for some people, and it can allow them 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.

Changing goals

By now, you’ll be well and truly aware of how cancer can mess up plans. Goals might have been delayed, or need to be reconsidered or redefined. It’s not uncommon for school to take longer. Change isn’t always negative, you may have found new opportunities and made new connections through your cancer experience, or found new skills and personal strengths you didn’t know you had.

Late effects of cancer

It’s important to know that not everyone who has treatment will have significant late effects, and late effects don’t mean that cancer has returned.

People who have been through cancer treatment may develop “late effects” as a result of chemotherapy or radiation damaging cells. These complications can be physical or emotional and range from minor to serious. 

The sort of late effects that might develop and their severity usually depends on things like what treatment was given, at what age and for how long.

Your child’s medical team should speak to you before treatment finishes about what you might expect and if there are any warning signs for you to look out for. Many hospitals also offer a late effects clinic that your child can access. Good late effects or long-term follow-up clinic will help your child look after their longer-term health and wellbeing, not just check for problems.

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