Treatment’s Over, Now What?


I called a friend in the mid-west who’s recently completed treatment for lung cancer. (Never smoked a day in her life.) It’s tough for her now. She wants to “get back to living” but is tired, moody, and not moving well. She has neuropathy in her feet, and her joints are stiff— both side effects from chemo.

I told her I thought the six to twelve months after treatment are, in a way, as tough as the treatment itself. People (including the person fresh out of treatment) think, “Hey, it’s over, I should be able to get back into life.”

Chemo. Radiation. Surgery—even on their own are major stuff! Your body’s healing. Be gentle with yourself. Allow your mind and body time to adjust to the new normal. For me, things seemed to get a bit worse before they got better. I think that’s because I was more aware, more awake, and more eager to “move on.” That’s when neuropathy and  joint pain set in, and I realized how weak I’d become—all while my “To Do List” kept growing.

Tip: Caregivers and friends – Even when treatment ends, she may find answering the phone is easier than initiating a call. Don’t be afraid about “disturbing” someone. You can leave them a message, or ask them the best time to call again.

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