After treatment, your children may expect things to get back to normal and find it difficult to understand why that’s not always simple.
You’ll probably feel very tired and may still be coping with side effects. It’s also not uncommon to feel anxious and isolated, and to miss the support you had during treatment. This is normal and it takes time for everyone to adjust to life after treatment.
It’s a good idea to prepare your children for the fact that it’s going to take time, possibly months, to get your energy back.
Be positive about the things you can do now treatment is over. Tell them about new changes to family life and routines – for example, if you’ll be picking them up from school or if you won’t be going back to work for a few months.
Tell them that you’re still getting support from the hospital, from a support group or online. Get them involved in things you’re doing to help your recovery, such as:
- taking some exercise like short walks to help to build up your energy levels
- eating well – tell them about foods that are healthy to eat and encourage them to try them
- making sure you all get enough sleep – explain how important this is for your recovery and for their growth
- asking them to carry on helping around the house.
Keep being open with your children. Let them know you’re still there to listen to them and that they can talk to you about their worries. They may be worrying about you staying well, and younger children will probably still be clingy. Explain that you’ll be going to the hospital for check-ups to make sure you’re well. They’ll need to know that you can still get everyday illnesses like colds, but that this doesn’t mean the cancer has come back.
Acknowledge that you’ve all been through something difficult together and how they’ve helped you to get better. This can be particularly important for teenagers. Things usually gradually get back to normal as everyday life takes over from the cancer.
Despite all the difficulties, cancer may bring some positive things to your family life. Being open and honest with your children can make you feel closer. You can feel proud of how your children have learned to cope when life doesn’t go to plan. And don’t be afraid to say how proud you are of them. They may be more responsible, independent and more sensitive to other people’s needs in the future.