After finishing lymphoma treatments and entering remission, a patient can be left with a lot of questions. They may still be asking why or how cancer happened to them. They are probably asking what to do next.
Patients have many options available to them when it comes with coping. Survival requires coping, as beating the disease is both a mental and physical process. Below are several tips for keeping yourself healthy.
Make sure you go to all of your doctor’s appointments and have every necessary test done to ensure your health. Catching late effects (problems developing after treatment) early is the key to avoiding problems, so regular check-ups are a must. Listen to your doctor.
Do not smoke or drink in excess. Try to develop a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats. Exercising regularly will help restore your body to health as well. These healthy habits can also help prevent disease in the future.
Report any symptoms you feel to your doctor if they are serious. Your doctor should provide you with a list of things to look for.
Expect to feel fatigue and weakness as the body heals. Low blood counts for a period after treatment is also somewhat normal, as your body will take time to recover from harsh treatments like chemo and radiation. Peripheral neuropathy is common, as is temporary memory loss (called "Chemo Brain").
More serious late effects include lung fibrosis, GI problems, osteoporosis, infertility, hypothyroidism, avascular necrosis (bone death in the joints), or neurological problems. Secondary cancers can also develop, which is why you have to be aware of your own health. Alerting doctors to any abnormal symptoms can help them identify these harmful late effects before they become a big problem.
Some survivors have extreme anxiety during check-ups due to fear of relapse or late effects. There are many ways of coping, which include joining support groups and mailing lists. You can talk to other survivors or open up to your family and friends.
Mental healing is just as important as physical healing, so think about trying meditation or other relaxation techniques.
- The National Cancer Institute publishes a website called Facing Forward
- Cancerbackup, a UK-based website, is another good lymphoma resource for life after lymphoma