Step 1: Set your Intention
So you survived. You survived the cancer diagnosis, the scans, the biopsy and the endless rounds of chemo and radiation. Your last follow up visit went well and now……… what?
As an oncologist, I can offer cancer treatment. But the healing? That’s all you. Only you can figure out what is your “new normal”. What is life after cancer treatment going to be for you?
The first step, the very very first baby step, is to set your intention. I recommend you take a piece of paper and write down what you want your life to look like going forward. Write down where you want to live, who you want to share your life with, what type of work you want to do.
Then get even more specific.
Do you have new physical limitations from surgery/chemo/radiation? Do you need to change the type of work you do? Is more school or training required? Do you think your work environment contributed to your diagnosis and needs to change?
How do you want to interact with your spouse? Your family? Have you grown closer or most distant from the people you love? You may have found a new support network through your cancer treatment, new friends who understand the challenges you’ve faced. Do you want to maintain these relationships?
How do you feel about your body post-treatment? Many cancer survivors feel betrayed by their body or ashamed by the surgical scars or radiation damage. Do you worry about “chemo brain” and feel like you need more support at home now? Can you exercise like you used to or do you need to find new activities you enjoy?
How do you feel? Are you living in constant fear of the next scan/blood test? Are you relieved to have the treatment over with? Just grateful to be alive? Are you angry and asking why me?
Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers right now. All you need, at this moment, is an intention. If writing is too hard, draw a picture, speak into the voice recorder on your phone— Just answer the question for now, how do you want your post-cancer life to be?
For more information, I recommend The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne Dyer.
Patient-focused treatment, and an individualized approach to oncology means Dr. Norleena Gullett is not just treating cancer, she's treating the whole person.