Life After the Completion of Breast Cancer Treatment

In Breast Cancer, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

You have just received the results of your latest tests and your doctor has declared that there is no evidence of disease (NED). You feel more than a little bit excited to celebrate this news. After all, you have been through, most likely, years of treatment since you were first diagnosed and now you are being released. You are so grateful that you no longer are being confined by an endless list of doctors’ appointments and can’t wait to put this part of your life behind you forever. But, is this the reality that you can truly expect?

To live a life that is less than a full one is no way to live, especially after having dealt with your breast cancer. Barbara Jacoby

At this point, you hope that you can go merrily on your way and have your old life back. Now you can plan what you want to do without having to work around an endless schedule of treatments and/or other appointments. You can now get up in the morning and head off to work feeling like you can conquer the world and the only other thing on your mind is what you can have for dinner. But, suddenly, you realize that this will never again be your reality as you can never go back to what things were like before breast cancer.

Since my view of life seems to be a bit different from that of most others, I realize that I have a different outlook on life and the future. I have never looked back at anything in my life and this is something most people can’t understand. My philosophy has always been that everything happens for a reason and that it is always for the best. I always search to figure out how events or relationship or a job or home has figured into where I am today and it has always been for the best. As a result, I have learned to live for today and know that what comes in the future will be exactly as it should be. But, I also know that such is probably not the case for most people.

For many, once you have been told that you don’t have to return for a physical or screening for 6 months, or perhaps a year, a new fear sets in. What if the cancer comes back and because you have to wait for a year, it has now spread? What if your doctor is wrong and the follow up should have been scheduled sooner? What if those who read the last tests missed something? What if you are doing something wrong that will cause the cancer to return? The list of “what if’s” could go on and on.

The fact is that you had breast cancer and after treatment, there is no evidence of cancer. But, you have heard all of the stories about those who have also been declared “cancer free” only to have the cancer return a year later or five years later or 10 years or more later. So it seems only natural that you should be realistic and be worried and concerned. But, I am going to suggest that you ask yourself one more “what if” question and that is what if you never get cancer again?

If you spend all of your time worrying, look at all of the energy you will have wasted being anxious. Think about all of the experiences that you never were able to enjoy because you were so focused on what would happen if the cancer came back. Think about the fear and anxiety that would have controlled every waking moment because of something that is unknown and not a reality at this time. So, you may say, I don’t know what else to do because I am so afraid that the cancer will come back.

Perhaps you might want to try what has worked for me. Every time the “what if the cancer comes back” question comes to mind, I ask myself “what if I were to be run over by a bus tomorrow”? This seems to put things into a much more realistic perspective. If you happened to be run over by a bus tomorrow, you would deal with the real situation when it happened. The same thing applies to all of the other “what if’s” in life including the return of cancer. You would deal with it just as you did the first time by going to the doctor and getting the treatment that you needed.

If, however, this doesn’t work for you, that’s okay. It is perfectly normal to feel this way. But, if you don’t want this fear to rule your life, you might want to speak to your medical professionals to find ways for you to learn how to better deal with the situation.  You should seek this help just as you would if there was a physical issue with which you were dealing. To live a life that is less than a full one is no way to live, especially after having dealt with your breast cancer. You deserve the best life that you can have, especially when you have worked so hard to get it so don’t hesitate to speak up and let others know what you need. I think you will be glad that you did.