Life after cancer treatment

We’re campaigning to ensure people who have finished their cancer treatment have access to the right support to help them live well.

Right now, too many people in the UK are not getting the support they need when treatment ends, and this needs to change.

  • One in four people living with cancer face poor health or disability after treatment for cancer.
  • That’s roughly 625,000 people across the UK.1

A woman looking out of the window. Headline text: I was shell-shocked, support dropped off a cliff. Caption text: Frances, on finishing her treatment for Hodgkin Lymphoma. More info

Frances's story

‘Emotionally in the first year [after treatment], I think I was shell-shocked because you’re trying to catch up with everything that has happened to your body, and all your family and relationships.

You feel like you're a failure and you've failed to bounce back in the way you think you should have done.’

When her treatment for cancer finished, Frances expected life to go back to normal.

In reality, she found herself alone, in shock, and struggling.

Some days Frances couldn’t get out of bed because of the severe fatigue, nausea and intense physical pain she was living with months after treatment had ended.

She lived with anxiety and panic attacks, which turned into depression as time went on. She was forced to give up her job, and her relationships were put under intense pressure.

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People like Frances face a cliff edge when their treatment ends

Sadly, Frances’s experience of life after treatment is a familiar story. And while cancer is no longer always life-ending, it’s almost always life-changing.

More and more people are living longer after a cancer diagnosis, but many people finish treatment and then struggle to cope with the ways cancer and its treatment has affected their lives.

Often, like Frances, people aren’t able to access the support they need to help them get back on their feet, come to terms with what has happened, and manage the ongoing impact cancer and its treatment has on their life.

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What kind of problems are people experiencing after treatment?

  • Just because cancer treatment has ended and less time is spent attending hospital appointments, doesn’t always mean life goes back to the way it was before a cancer diagnosis.
  • Living with physical or emotional problems for months – or even years – after treatment ends is all too common.
  • From chronic pain and fatigue, to eating issues, incontinence, panic attacks or depression, life after treatment for many people can be just as tough as cancer treatment itself, and can severely impact on someone’s quality of life.
  • People often don’t know what to expect or where to turn for help after treatment ends. They can feel abandoned at a time when they need support to get back on their feet.

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What do people need?

We believe everyone should have access to the support they need after cancer treatment ends to live well.

  • To have their needs identified and a plan put in place to address any issues.
  • To get the right practical, physical, emotional and financial support at the time they need it, during and after treatment.
  • To be given the confidence and tools to manage their own health, so they are aware of what support is available and feel empowered to raise concerns with their healthcare professionals.
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How you can help

If you live in England

Invite your MP to Macmillan’s World Biggest Coffee Morning in Parliament for them to learn more about life after treatment for people like Frances.

If you live in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales

  • Sign up as a e-campaigner to receive the latest updates on how you can get involved in our future life after cancer treatment campaign across the UK.
  • In the meantime, why not tell your MP why the issue of support after treatment matters to you by using our new tool?
  • And if you're holding your own Coffee Morning, use our tool to invite your MP along for a cuppa.
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Our calls to decision makers:

England

In 2015 the UK Government committed to making sure everyone with cancer in England receives personalised care and support after their treatment ends by 2020.

The clock is ticking. We now need to see progress so that the Government can deliver on this promise and make sure everyone has access to the support they need after cancer treatment.

This means that by 2020, people who have finished their cancer treatment should have access to a ‘Recovery Package’.

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Scotland

Wales/ Cymru

Macmillan believes that to achieve the best outcomes following a cancer diagnosis, person centred care must be at the heart of service delivery. Only by focusing on the whole person, can the patient’s experience during their cancer pathway be as good as it can possibly be. This is true for those who survive cancer, are living with or beyond cancer or someone who is nearing the end of life.

Person centred care remains a key aspiration within the Cancer Delivery Plan and Macmillan will work with the Welsh Government and the NHS to deliver it across Wales.

Byw gyda Chanser a Thu Hwnt

Cred Macmillan, er mwyn cyflawni’r canlyniadau gorau yn dilyn diagnosis o ganser, bod yn rhaid i ofal sydd yn canolbwyntio ar y person fod wrth wraidd darparu gwasanaeth. Dim ond trwy ganolbwyntio ar y person cyfan y gall profiad y claf ar eu llwybr trwy ganser fod cystal ag y gall fod. Mae hyn yn wir am y rheiny sy’n goroesi canser, yn byw gyda chanser neu y tu hwnt iddo neu rywun sydd yn agosáu at ddiwedd eu hoes.

Mae gofal sy'n canolbwyntio ar y person yn dal yn uchelgais allweddol yn y Cynllun Cyflenwi Canser a bydd Macmillan yn gweithio gyda Llywodraeth Cymru a'r GIG i'w gyflenwi ledled Cymru.

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Northern Ireland

We are calling on all political parties to commit to making sure the ‘Recovery Package’ is available to every patient progressing through and beyond treatment for cancer, so people get the support they need after treatment.

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The solution

Our policy team talk more about what needs to happen to improve life after treatment, across every nation.

Find out more

References

1Figures quoted from expert consensus collated as part of Macmillan Cancer Support (2013) Throwing light on the consequences of cancer and its treatment. 


Consensus was reached by consulting with a range of UK experts in the field, including members of the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative (NCSI) Board, the NCSI Pelvic Cancers Project Steering Group, the Consequences of Cancer and its Treatment Collaborative (CCaT) and other leading researchers and professional societies.

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Success stories

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