To speak to a specialist cancer nurse,
freefone the National Cancer Helpline
1800 200 700
Mon—Thurs 9am—7pm Fri 9am—5pm
Cancer and its treatments can result in a number of long term side effects. But when treatment is over, there are things you can do to stay as healthy and fit as possible. We can help you get back into life and find your normal routine, and stay as healthy as possible. People now are generally both physically and mentally fitter than previous generations. Many people who have had a diagnosis of cancer in the past return to quite good health. Sometimes people feel a new zest for life or a new lease of life once their cancer treatment is finished and enjoy a better quality of life. It can take some time to get back to the energy level you had before being diagnosed with cancer, especially if you have physical symptoms or are worried or have concerns that have not been dealt with. The information given can help you to get back into life again after a cancer diagnosis.
It’s important to remember that many people are cured and others are able to maintain a virtually normal life while living with cancer.
The symptoms you experience after cancer treatment can vary depending on the cancer type and the person. Some people have a number of symptoms while others have none. Treatment also affects people differently. Some symptoms and side effects are quite common and may be due to either the cancer or its treatment. Because you are not attending the clinic as often it's important to keep track of your symptoms and report them to your doctor in the hospital or to your GP.
For further information on managing symptoms view our booklets on treatments, side effects and symptoms.
Its important to try to be healthy by eating a healthy diet, get active and being a healthy weight.
The better you eat, the better you'll feel. A diet including lots of protein and energy will build up your strength after cancer treatment. Foods with energy and protein are:
Some cancer treatments, however, can affect your appetite or how you can eat. Talk to a dietician to get specific advice on the diet you need.
Download our Diet and Cancer booklet (pdf 3MB) for more information and get sample meal plans.
It's important to be active as soon as you feel that you can. It can ease your side-effects, like fatigue, stress or depression. You don't have to join a gym to stay active; doing simple things like going for a walk, gardening, or swimming are great ways to get some exercise. If you like the gym, a personal trainer can devise a training programme that's right for you.
A healthy weight reduces the risk of cancer recurrence and other health problems. Your body mass index (BMI) will let you know if you're the right weight. To get your BMI, divide your weight (in kilograms) by your height (in meters) and divide the result by your height.
For example: If you are 1.8 meters tall and weigh 65 kg, to calculate your BMI divide 65 by 1.8 = 36.1 and divide this by 1.8 again (36.1/1.8 = 20) so your BMI = 20.
If your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, you're in a healthy weight range.
Many people find that cancer has an impact on some of the practical aspects of their lives. People can have questions about very simple but also important practical issues such as; getting out and about, getting back to the hobbies they had before their cancer was diagnosed or getting involved with a new activity or hobby. You can contact our National Cancer Helpline on 1800 200 700 and speak to a specialist nurse or they can put you in touch with someone else who has been through cancer.
For many people of working age, getting back to work signifies a return to normality for them. Most employers will help you get back to work on a part-time basis and build up to full-time hours. If you feel you need to change the type of role you were in to something different, it’s important to talk to your employer. Your specialist nurse can help you explore the options that are appropriate for you.
Difficulties with travel can often be avoided by good organisation and planning. It’s important you let your doctor know if you are planning to travel outside the country. If you are on cancer treatment your doctor should make an assessment of whether or not you are fit to travel. Should you be given permission to travel you may also need advice on any possible precautions you should take or medication to take with you.
Things to take into account when planning holidays include vaccinations, taking medicines abroad, travel insurance and getting healthcare abroad. For further information download our Travel insurance cancer information web factsheet (pdf 122.43 KB).
Sometimes cancer can come back (recur) either in the same place as the cancer you had before, or it can spread to another part of the body. This depends on many factors, including the type of cancer, the stage it was at when diagnosed, what treatment was given and sometimes age can be a factor also.
Being aware of any symptoms you may develop is important. If you notice any new symptoms or if any of your old symptoms start to develop, contact your doctor immediately. And always continue to attend your medical appointments with your specialist doctor or nurse.
A cancer diagnosis can be difficult for you, your family and friends. Sometimes it's not until your treatment is completed that you become aware of the impact of the diagnosis. Talking to someone is the best way to deal with the emotional impact of cancer.
You can find inspiration, hope, and support by talking to someone that has been through cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery. You can join a support group, get counseling or talk with someone else who has been through cancer.
For more information call our National Cancer Helpline on Freefone 1800 200 700 and speak to a specialist nurse about what support is available to you.
The following booklets are free of charge from the Irish Cancer Society:
Freephone 1800 200 700 to talk to a specialist cancer nurse.
It's open Monday-Thursday from 9am to 7pm and Friday from 9am to 5pm.
National Cancer Helpline
Freefone 1 800 200 700
Talk to a specialist nurse
Have you used the Irish Cancer Society's cancer information services by phone, Daffodil Centre, email, social media or this website? A UCD research team is helping us to evaluate so that we can improve those services.