Even after chemotherapy (chemo), you will find that you have support. Your journey may not be quite as intense as it was during treatment, and this may feel like a relief. But there will be ongoing support from doctors, your care team, family, and others as you move toward living with cancer post-treatment.
After getting through chemo, you will still need to keep in contact with your doctor. You will probably go for regular checkups and tests for some time. How often you see your doctor after chemo depends on the type of cancer you had and what chemo medications you received. At follow-ups, your doctor will:
- Give you a physical exam
- Run follow-up blood tests and scans
- Address any continuing chemo side effects
- Check to see if the cancer has returned or spread
Your doctor will help you know how often you will need to get checkups.
Follow-up plans vary greatly. Some types of chemo may require frequent testing. This can be true even after you've finished your entire treatment course. People with other medical conditions may need to see their doctor more often. For example, if you have diabetes or heart or lung disease, your doctor may want to see you fairly regularly.
Keeping Track After Chemo
Ongoing support is a good chance for you to ask your doctor questions. At each visit, you may want to make a list of topics to review. Some common topics may be:
- New or persistent symptoms you've noticed
- Pain or discomfort that bothers you
- Physical problems such as fatigue, trouble sleeping, sexual problems, or weight changes
- Status of other chronic care issues such as heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis
- Medicines or supplements you are taking
- Emotional difficulties you are having, such as anxiety or depression
Take Time for Support
Allowing time for you, your family, and your caregivers to adjust and heal is important. You may feel that you need support as you start to move forward together. Some people who have been through chemo find support outside the family, too.
- Joining cancer survivor groups
- Seeing a therapist
- Joining online chat rooms for people living with cancer
- Reading books about people who have survived chemo
- Checking out the LiveStrong Organization, which aims to help survivors manage living with cancer
Do what it takes to get the support you need. Before you know it, you'll be skilled at facing the challenges and changes of post-chemo cancer head-on.