Dear Person approaching the end of their treatment,
Well, you’re nearly there! The date that you have been waiting for will soon be here. And while that’s exciting, it’s also very very frightening. What are you going to do when life does not revolve around your treatment and hospital appointments? What will life be like? If my experience is anything to go by, it will be exhilarating (the sense of freedom is real!), but scary and overwhelming at the same time. You’ll try to find your place in your new world, which will feel very different.
Expectations were the most difficult thing that I found to manage – my own and other people’s. I put on a lot of weight, and thought I’d lose it very fast once I finished treatment. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be. I felt that my family had this expectation also, and felt that I was letting them down. I thought I’d have my old energy back, and be living my old life again in a couple of months. I think everyone else did too.
Key to not being disappointed about not meeting expectations, is to set realistic expectations in the first place!! Yes, some people put a great face on, and seem to cope fantastically well very quickly, but it’s likely that they are hiding a lot of the worries and concerns that you have. What will do you the world of good is to meet with people in a very similar situation to yours, where you will realise that all healing and recovery takes time, that everyone faces issues, and that taking small steps can lead to making huge progress.
I have had the opportunity to meet such people, and make these realisations on the Marie Keating Survive and Thrive program. Learning to manage yourself and forming new, positive habits that will help you to settle into your life after cancer are at the core of the program. This emphasis has made me look at myself, and take responsibility for my life and how I am spending my time. The other ladies on the programe are, without exception, helpful, kind, and encouraging, and if anyone has a question or a problem, they get an immediate response in our newly-formed WhatsApp group. Equally, positive news or developments are shared. The facilitators have been just wonderful, displaying empathy and understanding at all times, but making people accountable for steps they’ve taken each week (in the kindest way possible!).
When you’ve processed the fact that you’ve finished your treatment, and when the initial excitement of that has faded, and your wondering how to navigate the world, definitely think about doing the Thrive and Survive program. You won’t regret it!