Beginning to recover

After cancer treatment you may find you need time to regain and rebuild your physical and emotional health. We have advice to help you with your recovery.

About recovery after treatment

Although you may feel ready to get on with life after treatment, it is common to have mixed feelings. You may have days when you feel anxious or uncertain about the future or less positive about your health. You may miss the routine of treatment, or the relationships you had with hospital staff. If your appearance has changed, you may be less confident about going out. For example, this could be because of hair loss or changes to your weight. These changes can be difficult to cope with, even if they are not obvious to everyone.

Recovery is a gradual process. Some days you will feel a little better than others. You need time to build up your physical strength and to process what you have been through.

The time after treatment is often a period of change. You are finding out what is now normal for you or what some people call their ‘new normal’. You need time to discover and adjust to what this means for you.

As part of your recovery, you may decide to think about ways to improve your well-being and long-term health. It is important to try and talk about how you feel. If you need extra support, contact a support group or ask your hospital team or GP to refer you to someone who can help.

Setting goals

How quickly it takes to get back to doing everyday things depends on the type of cancer you had, your treatment and general health. Try not to rush things. Think about your recovery as small, achievable goals you can manage and build up. For example, a goal could be going for a walk or trying to eat healthily most days. You can be flexible with yourself.

Setting goals can help you to focus on what you can do and help you to feel more in control. As you achieve a goal, your confidence will start to grow. Remember to notice every success, no matter how small.

You may need to push yourself to do things you are less confident about doing, such as going out. Start with simple things like a short walk with family or friends, or going to a cafe. Over time, you will gradually find yourself getting back into the routine of everyday life. You may go out more and see friends, go on holiday, get back into sport or hobbies, or go back to work.

Changes to your outlook on life

Your cancer experience may change your outlook on life. Or you may find you think about things in a different way than you did before. Some people decide on what is important to them and make new priorities. You may discover new interests or decide to make lifestyle changes to improve your well-being or to find ways of reducing stress in your life.

Lifestyle and well-being

When you feel ready, you may decide to think about ways to improve your well-being and long-term health.

We have more information on leading a healthy lifestyle after treatment.