“What happens after chemo is finished?”
A question that many survivors no doubt have running through their mind at the conclusion of their treatment. Overcoming cancer is one of life’s greatest triumphs, but many survivors find themselves wondering what to expect after last chemo treatment. We at CamWell feel an immense sense of pride in helping survivors begin to adjust to life after cancer, aided by the use of our natural, oncologist created healing products.
What Happens After Chemo is Finished?
If you’re reading this as someone who has finished your last round of chemotherapy, from all of us at CamWell, we say: Congratulations. Overcoming cancer is one of the most trying experiences one can go through, and coming out on the other side with the help of chemotherapy is cause for celebration.
As cancer treatments are further refined and innovated throughout the course of time, more and more people find themselves cancer-free. As of 2016, there were an estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States – this number is expected to grow to 20.3 million by 2026.
Of course, many survivors may be asking themselves what to expect after last chemo treatment. You may be wondering – “How long after chemo will I feel better?” and “How long after chemo does your body get back to normal?”
These are all valid, important questions that need answering – and we’re here to help. Life after chemo may come with its own set of circumstances that you’ll need to cope with.
What to Expect After Last Chemo Treatment
Physical Changes and Strategies to Cope
First and foremost, you may be noticing some physical changes in your life after chemo. Chemotherapy works by destroying cancer cells that grow and divide quickly – unfortunately, this sometimes results in fast-growing, healthy cells also being affected.
It’s important to note that not everyone will experience the same sort of side-effects when it comes to life after chemo. Every situation is unique, and each survivor’s situation is different.
Fortunately, no matter what you may be dealing with in your post-treatment life, most of your bodily issues are able to be kept under control. Luckily, there are numerous precautions and strategies you can employ to minimize the adverse effects of life after chemo.
Depending on where your cancer was located, you may be dealing with pain. This pain can either be localized to the area where cancer was being treated, or it may be an issue that has impacted your entire body. Whatever the case may be, there are ways to cope with some of the painful side-effects that come along with what happens after chemo is finished, which will impact how long until you feel better.
Up to 70 percent of cancer survivors may experience some form of peripheral neuropathy after chemotherapy is finished. We’ve written extensively about this topic on another blog post because many people desire to know how to reverse neuropathy from chemo. Typically developing in the feet, hands, and legs, neuropathy is a common condition that comes with some very identifiable symptoms, including:
- Shooting or stabbing pain
- Muscle weakness
- Inability to keep your balance
- Sensitivity to cold or heat
Skin changes are some of the most common issues you may encounter in life after chemo, and why many cancer patients seek out skin care products. Your skin changes may last for a few months, but could last longer depending on your treatment. Fortunately, many can be easily detected and, eventually, mitigated.
Some of the skin changes survivors frequently mention include:
Dry Skin – Your skin may be feeling itchy, accompanied by roughness and tightness. This is one of the more common skin conditions survivors may deal with.
Flushing – You may be experiencing temporary redness of the face and neck caused by the dilation of your blood capillaries.
Hyperpigmentation – Darkening of the skin that can either occur solely in the area of treatment or throughout the entire body.
Photosensitivity – You may be feeling an enhanced skin response to ultraviolet rays from the sun.
Radiation Recall – A condition involving redness that occurs at the site where radiotherapy was administered. The skin condition resembles a severe sunburn in spots where previous radiation was given.
Strategies to Cope with Pain and Skin Changes
Luckily, there is plenty you as a survivor can do to improve your conditions in your life after chemo. The important thing to remember is that YOU are in control.
When it comes to skin changes and associated pain, we at CamWell have made it our mission to provide safe, oncologist-formulated solutions to help patients and survivors alike cope with their symptoms.
CamWell Hand to Heal Cream is the perfect solution for skin conditions such as Hand Foot syndrome you may be coping with – users have even said that it’s helped calm their symptoms of peripheral neuropathy! Every bottle of Hand to Heal Cream is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and contains no harsh chemicals. Each ingredient is carefully sourced and selected, and only a thin layer is required for maximum results.
Benefits of CamWell Hand to Heal Cream include:
- Soothes chemo-induced neuropathy
- Hydrates severely dry, cracked skin
- Calms inflammation
- Relieves pain and tenderness
- Helps with foot care during and after chemo
- Protects skin against infection
- Heals skin damage linked to numbness and tingling
In addition to utilizing a CamWell product, here are some other helpful strategies and precautions you can take when it comes to managing your pain:
- Speak with your doctor or care team about your pain
- Do not assume all pain after treatment is “normal”
- Involve your doctor at the first sign of pain
- When speaking with your doctor, use numbers to describe how your pain is feeling. A one to ten scale is a good idea
- Explain when you feel pain, when it starts, how long it lasts, and if it gets better or worse at certain times throughout the day
Fatigue is something you’ve battled throughout your cancer treatment, and it’s lingering effects can be felt after you’ve completed chemo as well. Fatigue is a common complaint – as such, there is much that can be done to help cope with it and mitigate its effects.
It’s important to remember there’s no typical timeline or pattern when it comes to fatigue, and every survivor is different. It’s common for treatments during the course of your cancer to cause fatigue, however researchers are still unclear as to what may cause fatigue after treatment has been completed. In most cases though, your energy levels should return to normal within six months of completing treatment.
If you’re struggling with fatigue, you may be dealing with symptoms such as:
- Feeling sleepy throughout the day
- Feeling sudden, extreme tiredness
- Feeling too weak to stand
- Feeling tired even after a good night’s sleep
Coping With Fatigue
The battle against fatigue can be fought a number of ways, and there are many things you can do to keep yourself in control of the condition. Of course, you should consult with your care team before incorporating any high level of physical activity, when applicable.
As far as things you can control, here are some helpful strategies to keep your feelings of fatigue at bay:
Plan Your Days – Schedule yourself to be active when you are most alert during the day.
Save Energy – While this is sometimes easier said than done, there are small changes you can make to conserve energy throughout the day. For example, sitting down to do the dishes rather than standing at the sink.
Sleep – While sleeping alone won’t “cure” your fatigue, taking small naps or breaks between activities will keep your energy levels up.
Maintain a Sleep Schedule – Keeping a steady sleep schedule will help keep your fatigue at bay. Try to go to sleep and wake up around the same times daily.
Ask For Help – There is no shame in letting family and friends help you with something that is too tiresome. Be vocal to them when it comes to your needs, they are here to help!
Just Say No – Don’t be afraid to say no to things that don’t matter as much to you now. For example, delegating household work and chores away from yourself so that you’ve got more energy for the activities you enjoy.
How Long After Chemo Does Your Body Get Back to Normal?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to a timeframe. Everyone is different and the amount of time you spend recovering depends on multiple factors.
Even though there’s not set amount of time to fixate on, there’s a lot you can do to help yourself move forward:
Self-Nourishment – Much like food feeds your body, experiences feed your soul. It’s important to give yourself exactly what you need at any given time. Want to take that nap you used to feel guilty about? Go for it! Read new books, listen to new music, pay attention to your needs, and most of all – enjoy yourself.
Socialize – You might be feeling a bit low after treatment has been completed, which is common. Surround yourself with a solid support system – this can come in the form of family, friends, or an actual support group. Joining a group with other survivors will help forge a connection with others who have had similar experiences.
Set Goals – Your survival gives you a second chance at life – a chance to focus on what truly matters most to you. This could be as small as writing in a journal every day or walking every morning, or as large as starting your own business out of your home. Whatever the case may be, setting goals for yourself will feel you with an overwhelming sense of positivity and accomplishment.
Life After Chemo
Life after chemo may be filled with challenges along the way – you may find yourself having to adjust to a new normal. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to try and maintain a sense of positivity. Your biggest battle has been fought and won – now you get to look forward to life after treatment. Note: If you’re here reading on behalf of a friend or loved one, consider one of our thoughtful chemo patient gifts.
The team at CamWell supports each and every cancer survivor as they begin their post-treatment lives. It is among our biggest goals to help survivors cope with any lingering symptoms they may be encountering. It is our hope that you continue to live a happy, healthy life after cancer.