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Life after cancer treatment

During treatment, you were probably so busy just getting through each day that it was hard to imagine that treatment would ever end. Now that it has, you may be surprised by mixed feelings. You may find that you feel glad, excited and anxious all at the same time. While you’re happy to be done treatment, it’s normal to be concerned about what the future holds. Many people find the time after treatment to be a period of transition and adjustment – and much more of a challenge than they expected. As you adjust, be kind to yourself. Don’t expect to feel good about everything. Go slowly and give yourself time to come to terms with all you’ve been through.

What’s in a name?

Being a “cancer survivor” means different things to different people. One way of defining a cancer survivor is anyone who:

  • has finished and is recovering from their active cancer treatment
  • is on maintenance therapymaintenance therapyTreatment given after the first-line therapy (the first or standard treatment) to keep a disease (such as cancer) under control or to prevent it from coming back (recurring). It may be given for a long period of time.
  • is having ongoing treatment for cancer that is stable and slow growing
  • is on active surveillance
  • is in remissionremissionA decrease in or the disappearance of signs and symptoms of a disease (such as cancer).

Some people don’t like the way the word “survivor” is used or feel that it doesn’t apply to them. And that’s fine. For others, the word helps describe that they’ve gone through a particular experience. They find it empowering and a positive way of describing themselves.

Stories

Stephanie Hermsen Thanks to the incredible progress in retinoblastoma research made possible by Canadian Cancer Society funding, my son won’t have to go through what I did.

Read Stephanie's story

Clinical trial discovery improves quality of life

Illustration of test tubes

A clinical trial led by the Society’s NCIC Clinical Trials group found that men with prostate cancer who are treated with intermittent courses of hormone therapy live as long as those receiving continuous therapy.

Learn more