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Post Treatment 6 months +

Reclaim every aspect of your life if you haven't already.

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Treatment can play havoc with your self image long after it ended. This includes how you see yourself in your relationship, as a sexual partner, physically, and in the work place.

Reclaim yourself by taking the following steps:

  • Return to those parts of your old routine that still make sense to you. Start slowly and build up as you go.
  • Reassert control over as much of your life as you can.
  • Celebrate being here today and the things you can do. Let go of yesterday and what you were able to do.
  • Travel if you want. (Survivorship A to Z provides information for traveling as an educated consumer who has had cancer).
  • At work, take back activities you may have handed off to other people. Work on the parts of your to do list that you let slide. Keep your limitations in mind. There is a reason people still use the old adage "Rome wasn't built in a day."
  • Get back into your social world. Don't let the long term emotional or physical effects of your cancer hold you back. Social support is important to quality of life and longevity.
  • Do what you can to make yourself look better and to feel better physically. We are back to the basics: eat right, exercise, take care of your oral health, get the rest you need, do what you can to keep a positive mental attitude. (If you need help with make-up, contact the American Cancer Society's Look Good Feel Good program at 800.ACS.2345).
  • Renew romantic relationships. The incidence of separation and divorce is no higher for people with cancer than the general population. Still, the two of you have been through a stressful ordeal. Find time for just the two of you on a weekly basis. Maybe even try "dating" each other for awhile.
  • Regain physical intimacy.
    • Physical intimacy is important for human well being.
    • If you don't want to have sex for reasons other than your cancer, that's your choice. However, if you are refraining because of your cancer, or what the treatment did to your face or body, it is time to reexamine the issue.
    • If you are having any difficulty at all, speak with your cancer doctor or primary care physician. For example, women may have pain during intercourse or difficulty lubricating. Don't wait for your doctor to bring it up.
  • If you are single, starting dating again. There is no right or wrong about when to tell someone your cancer history.

If you have been disfigured, you have a new physical identity that may take some adjusting to. Keep in mind that only your physical appearance has changed - not you. The key to coping with the change is to how you see yourself. People in a similar situation suggest that you think of your disfigurement as an emblem of your strength and fortitude.

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