When you go through a cancer treatment you receive tremendous support from everywhere - friends, family, colleagues, doctors.
You don't really feel alone, that is not until you finish the treatment…
Friends and colleagues who visited or called you during the treatment go back to their lives, hoping you are "back to normal" and thinking they are making you a favour by avoiding to discuss the c-word.
So when the treatment is over you are left completely on your own, because as much as others may try to empathise, it is very difficult for them to really understand what you are experiencing. And while it's good for the friends and family to move on, you may be stuck with physical symptoms, emotional roller-coasters, and a changed sense of life meaning for up to 10 years after the treatment.
Cancer survivors report that the feeling of loneliness and being misunderstood after the treatment is over is often harder than the treatment itself.
What can help in this case? Connect with others who share your experience and concerns. This can be done in an informal setting, or guided by a professional who can hold the space for a small group of people going through similar feelings of loneliness, isolation and any other emotional challenges related to cancer.
- Ask your family doctor or oncologist if they can introduce you to other cancer survivors
- Reach out to people from your professional network or your company's HR to ask for the contacts of other cancer survivors they know
- Search online for cancer survivor meet-ups in your area
- Participate in meetings and events organised by your local cancer foundations
- Look for a professional organising therapeutic group sessions
You don't have to go through this alone and while family and friends may love you dearly, sometimes they just don't know how to help.