The Aftermath of Breast Cancer Treatment

Treatment and the possibility of remission are two of the main concerns for any woman facing breast cancer. But what happens after the goal of remission has been achieved? While there is relief and hope at the end of a successful treatment journey, there is also the reality of adjusting to inevitable and long-term life changes.

Physical Changes

The physical after-effects of cancer treatment are a primary concern in the weeks after your chemo or other therapies end. You may continue to feel tired, foggy, and unfocused for some time. These symptoms will abate on their own timetable, not yours. Be patient with yourself and take the time you need to fully recover. While it’s difficult, if not impossible, to predict the duration of your physical recovery, a general rule of thumb is to expect it to take about as much time as the period from when you first realized you might have cancer to the end of your last treatment. If you are continuing with ongoing therapies or reconstructive surgery, these will affect your physical state as well.

Coping Strategies

Your treatment may have impacted your ability to concentrate, problem solve, and remember. Where you can, use coping techniques, such as making lists or programming reminders into your phone, to help you manage daily tasks. Allow yourself extra time to rest each day during the periods when fatigue hits you hardest.

Family and Relationships

Your loved ones may have a strong desire to be supportive, but may not fully understand your reality as you transition from treatment to recovery. Some of the effects of treatment may linger after your treatment ends, and the time it takes to return to your normal level of activity can be difficult to predict. You will need to make sure that friends, family, and coworkers understand your needs so they can support you.

Extended Endocrine Therapy

Not everyone will need extended endocrine therapy to prevent reoccurrence, but there are women who will benefit from that after cancer treatment. Breast cancer patients can rely on tests like Breast Cancer Index to determine whether they should pursue additional measures to prevent relapse.