Tag Archive for: Survivorship

Finding Your New Normal: 7 Steps To Navigating Life After Cancer

 A cancer diagnosis can turn your life upside down, challenging you physically, emotionally, and mentally. It takes a lot of strength, resilience, and support to get through cancer treatment. However, reaching the end of your treatment doesn’t mean that you’ve reached the end of your journey. Instead, it marks the beginning of a whole new chapter.

After cancer, finding your “new normal” is often an important part of your recovery process, giving you the chance to rebuild your life, reclaim your identity and embrace a brighter future.

A new normal is the adjustment and change that occur after an event or circumstance that has a significant impact on a person’s life, such as a cancer diagnosis. It refers to various aspects of a person’s life that may have been impacted by the disease and its treatment.

There may be physical adjustments required, such as coping with side effects from treatment or adapting to a new lifestyle to maintain health and well-being. You may also have to adjust emotionally as you learn to cope with anxiety and fear of recurrence. Additionally, the new normal may involve reevaluating priorities, setting new goals, and incorporating self-care and support into your daily life.

In this article, we will explore seven essential steps to help you navigate the new reality after cancer. These steps are designed to support your emotional well-being, physical health, self-care, and personal growth.

1. Rebuild Your Physical Strength

One of the most significant aspects of reclaiming life after cancer is physical recovery. Engaging in regular exercise can help you restore stamina, improve your overall well-being, and reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. Whether it’s gentle walks, yoga, swimming, or strength training, find activities that suit your abilities and interests. Start slowly and listen to your body, gradually increasing your activity levels as you gain strength and endurance. Physical rehabilitation programs or working with a certified fitness professional can also provide guidance and support tailored to your specific needs. Focusing on rebuilding your physical strength will help you regain control over your body and enhance your quality of life moving forward.

2. Acknowledge Your Feelings

Equally important as rebuilding your physical strength is addressing the emotional and psychological aftermath of cancer. While treatment targets cancer specifically in the body, the experience doesn’t leave the mind, spirit, or emotions untouched.  The toll it takes has been likened to a natural disaster or trauma. In fact, recent studies have put forward the theory that surviving cancer fits the framework of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

It’s common to go through a rollercoaster range of emotions when active cancer treatment ends, including fear, relief, gratitude, anxiety, and uncertainty about the future. The fear of recurrence can be overwhelming, and adjusting to the changes in your body and appearance can be a challenging process.

It’s important to acknowledge your feelings and give yourself permission to process them. Understand that what you are feeling is a natural response to the trauma you’ve faced. Allow yourself the time and space to grieve any losses, whether they be physical, emotional, or psychological.

Be compassionate to yourself and patient with the pace of recovery. Support from friends, family, and professional counselors can be immensely helpful. It can help you cope with your emotions and express your emotions in a safe environment. Joining support groups with other cancer survivors can also be helpful, as it allows you to connect with individuals who understand your experiences firsthand. These networks can offer emotional support, inspiration, and a sense of belonging that fosters resilience and personal growth.

3. Embrace Self-Care

Make self-care a top priority by engaging in activities that promote relaxation, reduce stress, and support your overall wellness. Carve out time for relaxation and engage in activities that bring you joy and promote a sense of well-being. This may include pursuing hobbies, spending time in nature, connecting with loved ones, or engaging in creative outlets. Activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or journaling can help cultivate a sense of calm, inner peace, and self-reflection. These practices provide valuable moments for healing and self-discovery.

4. Take care of your diet

Your diet plays a crucial role in supporting your overall health. Adding fruits and vegetables to your diet can support your recovery. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in these foods promote healing and boost your immune system. Get a range of nutrients by including a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Whole grains, such as whole wheat, oats, quinoa, and brown rice, are good sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They can help maintain energy levels, support digestion, and provide sustained nourishment.

Proteins such as poultry, fish, legumes, and tofu are essential for tissue repair and regeneration. It is important to include adequate protein in your diet in order to help heal wounds, recover muscles, and maintain strength. Healthy fats, like those found in avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, are important for brain health and nutrient absorption. Including these fats in moderation can contribute to a well-rounded and balanced diet.

Consulting with healthcare professionals or nutritionists who specialize in cancer survivorship can provide valuable guidance on tailoring your diet to meet your specific needs. They can take into account any dietary restrictions or sensitivities you may have and create a personalized nutrition plan that supports your recovery and long-term health goals.

5. Redefine Identity and Self-Image

Cancer can profoundly affect your identity and self-image. You may find yourself grappling with changes in your physical appearance, altered body functions, or a sense of loss. Finding ways to redefine your identity in a way that feels authentic and empowering is important as you navigate these changes.

You are not solely defined by your cancer experience. Explore the aspects of yourself beyond your diagnosis. Recognize and develop your unique strengths, talents, and interests. Engaging in activities that foster self-expression is an effective way to reconnect with yourself and discover what you’re passionate about. Writing, painting, photography, and participating in support programs can help you tap into your creativity and rediscover yourself beyond cancer.

6. Reassess Priorities and Life Goals

Beyond physical and emotional recovery, you may also find yourself questioning your priorities and reassessing your life goals.  Cancer often acts as a wake-up call, prompting us to live more intentionally and authentically. Take the time to reflect on your personal aspirations, dreams, and ambitions. Consider what truly matters to you and how you want to shape your future. This may involve exploring a new career path, nurturing relationships and connections with loved ones, or engaging in activities that bring you joy. Embrace this opportunity for personal growth and create a future filled with purpose and fulfillment.

7. Celebrating Your Milestones

As you navigate your journey toward the new normal, it’s important to honor every milestone, no matter how small it may seem. Every step forward is a victory worth celebrating. Take the time to acknowledge and celebrate the end of treatments, anniversaries of being cancer-free, or personal achievements that you accomplish along the way. Each of these milestones serves as a reminder of your strength, resilience, and progress. Make sure to surround yourself with loved ones who can share in your celebrations and provide support.


The process of finding your new normal after cancer requires patience, self-compassion, and time. Healing is a journey that will have its ups and downs.  Throughout your journey, remember to be kind to yourself and prioritize self-care in all its forms. Nurture your emotional well-being, tend to your physical health, and honor your individuality. Trust in your ability to adapt and grow.

May your journey be filled with healing, self-discovery, and a renewed sense of hope and purpose.

Dr. Krisstina Gowin: Why Is It Important for You to Empower MPN Patients?

Dr. Krisstina Gowin: Why Is It Important for You to Empower MPN Patients? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Empowerment for myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) patients is a vital part of their care, but how can providers help with this? Dr. Krisstina Gowin from the University of Arizona shares key ways that she helps empower her patients and explains some reasons why patient empowerment is important in their care.

See More from Empowering Providers to Empower Patients (EPEP)

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Dr. Ana Maria Lopez Why Is It Important for You to Empower Patients


Dr. Krisstina Gowin: 

I think the first key to empowerment is education. And so anytime I meet a patient, I spend a significant amount of time really making sure they understand their disease and what are the treatment goals, and how do we best achieve those together? And I think for MPNs in particular, that I want them to understand that, yes, we want hematologic response, we want to control your blood counts and your numbers, we want to reduce those thrombotic complications, we want to control your symptom burden, so so important, your quality of life and symptom burden is part of the disease management.

And so I want them to understand what is symptom burden, and how is it measured, and how do we best achieve chronologic measurements? Do they do that at home? Is it best in clinic, are they going to be journaling? So symptom burden and measuring, and then the other is wellness and the management of cardiovascular risk factors, and so education around all of those for my MPN patients.

And then why is it important while it’s important because we want our patients to feel empowered, we want to feel like they are driving the bus and contributing to their own survivorship and wellness, and so how do they best do that is through education and then again, getting the tools they need to really navigate their journey in the most precision and personal, personalized way as possible, and so that’s really my strategy is education and empowerment.

Will Telemedicine Improve My Quality of Life with CLL?

Will Telemedicine Improve My Quality of Life with CLL? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

How do chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients and care partners feel about the impact of telemedicine on quality of life? Watch as a CLL patient and care partner, Bob and Susan, discuss how easier access to blood test results affects patient emotions before and during remote office visits.

See More From the CLL TelemEDucation Empowerment Resource Center

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Will Telemedicine Be a Long-Term Survivorship Tool for CLL Patients?

Is Remote Monitoring for CLL Patients on CAR T Therapy the Future?

What CLL Symptoms Can Be Monitored via Telemedicine?


Susan Bottega: 

The role of telemed in terms of survivorship I think is a very, very interesting subject. CLL patients are living a very long life these days with the onset of the novel agents that are coming out. Quality of life becomes a very, very important subject for CLL patients. So much of their quality of life is diminished by the visits that they have to make into doctors’ offices.

The anguish that they spend the day before, the sleepless night that accompanies the doctor’s visit. I think that this is extremely important. You’re looking very possibly of at least two days taken out of your life, and if you’re making these visits on a monthly basis or bi-monthly basis or even tri-monthly basis, that’s a long period of time to take out of the span of your lifetime. And as we’re living longer, this becomes more and more important.

You want to have that quality of life, you want to be able to go on vacations. Your vacations can’t be postponed because you have a doctor’s appointment looming in the future. You can take your computer right along on vacation with you and share your vacation with your doctor.

Bob Bottega:

I like that.

Susan Bottega:

I think the anguish that you feel about blood tests is diminished by it. You don’t have to wait to get the results of your blood tests, your blood tests pop right up on your patient portal. You don’t have to sit there and wait in a doctor’s office until you see those results.

Once you see your doctor, you’ve already got your results and you’re calm about it, you’re relaxed because you know what the results are and you can discuss them without having to deal with the anxiety that comes with hearing, “Okay, my white blood cell count has gone up considerably, so how do I calm myself down to discuss this intelligently at this point in time when I’m emotionally so upset over it?” I think these are very, very important things about the quality of your life. How about you, Bob?

Bob Bottega:

I think you said it all.

Susan Bottega:

Don’t I always? (laughter)


This resource was originally published by Cancer.net here.

Today, there are more than 15.5 million Americans alive with a history of cancer. Cancer.Net’s survivorship section provides helpful information for cancer survivors and their friends and family.

Healthy Living

Tips for leading a healthy lifestyle during and after treatment