When the End of Treatment Doesn't Feel Like a Celebration

Posted: September 15, 2020


Mental Health






Done with cancer treatment and don’t feel like celebrating? We get it.  

Treatment was a whirlwind, wasn’t it? Appointment after appointment, doctor after doctor, and test after test… For the last several months (or years) you’ve focused your full attention on simply making it from day-to-day. The process can be so all consuming. 

Now that you’re “done” and the dust is beginning to settle, unprocessed emotions and new perspectives might keep you up at night. How are you coping, bud?

It’s pretty common to feel less-than-stellar about finishing treatment. 

Are you…

  • simply shocked that you survived?

  • wondering, “Well, what now?”

  • anxious AF that the cancer will come back?

  • annoyed at the “hero” talk from friends and family?

  • uncomfortable being called a survivor? 

  • a stranger to yourself? 

  • upset about changes to your body? 

  • grieving the time you’ve lost to cancer? 

  • afraid to make big goals, in case of a recurrence? 

Those feelings are ALL valid. The end of treatment can feel kind of like jet lag. You’re fatigued. You can’t concentrate. And your new “normal” is nothing like that of the people around you. It’s a very individual experience, and it takes time for your body and mind to adjust. 

While friends and family members were excited to celebrate us crossing the “finish line,” we were still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Couldn’t they see that, with all of the recurrence stats, tests, and what-if’s whirling around our brains, the long-haul journey was only just beginning!? Confession: We also kind of wanted to slap the shiz out of the many well-meaning loved ones who made cliched comparisons between beating cancer and winning a war. 

Finishing treatment was sort of anticlimactic. After looking forward to the “no evidence of disease” all-clear for so long, by the time we heard the words, we felt more anxious about what was next. As cancer thriver Josie says, “Cancer never ends. It becomes a part of you and no one who hasn’t been through it can understand.” If you can relate, don’t mope around feeling bad about feeling bad, bud.

Finding joy after cancer treatment can be really freaking hard. Here are some things that might help: 

Celebrate the small stuff. 

Maybe you’re excited to wear something other than a hospital gown. Maybe you really love your job and have finally been cleared to go back to work. Whatever feels like a “win,” lean into it.

To continue reading, create a free account or login to buddhi.