Well-being and recovery

Coming to the end of your cancer treatment can be a time of mixed emotions. You’ll probably feel relieved but there can also be feelings of anxiety and uncertainty about the future. It can take time to rebuild confidence and to come to terms with what you’ve been through.

You may be keen to get back to doing all the things you did before your cancer. But it may take time to recover from treatment.

There may be physical changes in the way you look, and possibly changes in some areas of your daily life, such as the way you speak or what you can eat. There will also be emotional changes to deal with so it’s important to give yourself time to adjust.

Support is available from the organisations listed on our database or you can speak to one of our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00

Gradually after treatment, you’ll find that day-to-day things that occupied you before cancer will start to fit back into your life. Going back to work and getting back to the interests you had before can be important steps forward.

Some people feel that although they wouldn’t have chosen to go through this experience, it’s changed them in positive ways and helped them to think about their priorities. They may decide to focus more on relationships with family and friends or on doing the things they’ve always wanted to do.

You may want to think about making changes to your lifestyle and find out more about healthy living. Perhaps you already followed a healthy lifestyle before your cancer, but you may now want to be more focused on making the most of your health. There are things you can do to help your body recover. These can also help improve your sense of well-being and lower your risk of getting other illnesses and some cancers.

Eating well

It’s important to have a nutritious and well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, even if your appetite and interest in food have been reduced. Your dietitian will be able to tell you about ways to eat well.

Smoking

If you’re a smoker, it’s important to try to give up. Smoking is the main cause of head and neck cancers and continuing to smoke puts you at greater risk of developing a second cancer.

Giving up smoking can be difficult but there is lots of support available. Speak to your doctor or call a stop smoking helpline for further advice and to find out where your local stop smoking service is.

Alcohol

Cutting back on alcohol can also help. Drinking alcohol and smoking will greatly increase your risk of developing another head and neck cancer.

Physical activity

Keeping active can be an important part of your recovery after treatment. It can improve your sense of well-being and build up your energy levels. It also reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. You should talk to your cancer specialist or GP before you make changes to your activity levels. Start slowly and increase your activity over time.

Back to Beginning to recover

Follow up

Your will have regular follow up appointments after treatment. These will include physical examinations and sometimes scans.

Changes in how you look

Treatments may change your appearance and affect your body image. There are different people and organisations to help support you.