Christine Bylewski, LCSW-R is a therapist who dedicated her career to cancer patients and their families through her practice, Cancer Counseling Services and her community outreach programs. She has shared with us a very common question that women who are completing their cancer treatments ask her.
QUESTION: Now that I have completed my cancer treatment, I am feeling very alone and pretty anxious. I thought I would be relieved and maybe even happy. But I am scared. I didn’t realize how seeing my oncologist and his nurse became such a lifeline. Now I feel I am out there just waiting for my cancer to rear its ugly head. What can I do to feel more comfortable and less worried?
ANSWER: Recognizing that you are in the “middle” of your recovery from cancer treatment is helpful. Once the physical part is completed, the emotional reaction to all you have gone through now needs attention. I encourage you to look at what YOU can control. The three basic components to sound emotional health as well as physical health are good nutrition, decent sleep, and exercise. Ask your physician if you are ready for some exercise. Walking is usually the best first step to getting back in shape. A brisk walk can reduce anxiety and help disturbed sleep patterns. Now more than ever, eating well is vitally important to your recovery from cancer treatment and helping to prevent recurrence. Take a look at one of my favorite books, “The Cancer Fighting Kitchen” by Rebecca Katz. This is a great resource for nutritional education and fun recipes. Having appropriate expectations of yourself is key to regaining your emotional balance. Be kind to yourself. You have been through so much. Remember to breathe. Find a gentle Yoga class to help guide you to better breathing. A gentle, loving approach to your daily challenges will go a long way to ensuring your future health and wellness.