Quarter of survivors find life after cancer harder than actual treatment

life after cancer

Breast cancer patients often find it more difficult to cope with life after cancer than the actual treatment, a leading charity has found.

New research from Breast Cancer Care suggests many survivors find treatment ending harder than having a breast removed or going through chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

From the survey, it was discovered that more than a quarter (26%) of women diagnosed with breast cancer say life after treatment is harder than the treatment itself.

Shockingly, only 10% say they felt positive and ready to move on when they were discharged from hospital treatment. And, of the over 800 women surveyed, more than half (53%) struggled with anxiety at the end of treatment and nearly a third (31%) with depression.

Yet almost half (42%) of those surveyed were not told by their healthcare team how to access information and support once hospital treatment ended.

The survey found three of the toughest issues women face at the end of treatment are:

  • 80% fear their cancer coming back
  • 79% struggle with fatigue
  • 52% struggle with a lack of body confidence

Commenting on the findings, David Crosby, director of services and engagement at Breast Cancer Care, said: “These shocking figures show that, for the majority of women, breast cancer doesn’t stop when hospital treatment ends.

cancer support group

“Getting back to ‘normal’ can feel like a huge mountain to climb, and many find that leaving hospital after their last appointment is the hardest moment of all.”

He added: “The NHS must ensure every breast cancer patient has access to support once their hospital treatment ends. Despite commitments to make this happen, there has been worryingly little progress to turn this promise into reality.”

Life after cancer

If you’re struggling with life after treatment, here’s some products that may help:

Struggling with fatigue


Cotswold Lavender Slumber Spray

slumber spray

Cotswold Lavender Slumber Spray is a relaxing fragrance which can help calm and relax. Simply spray it on your pillow and it will help you fall asleep naturally for a peaceful night’s sleep.

Struggling with a lack of confidence


wunderbrow for cancer patientsThe award-winning WUNDERBROW Eyebrow Gel is an innovative gel formula which combines natural pigments and hair-like fibres, with their unique PermaFix gel, designed to stay put. As a result of using Wunder2, one of several products from the popular WUNDERBROW range, eyebrows look naturally defined and lasts for days.  As well as being waterproof, the gel won’t even smudge when you rub – it will only come off when you decide to remove it with an oil-based cleanser.

Rose Bamboo Hat

bamboo rose hat for cancer

While you’re waiting for your hair to grow back, why not rock a trendy hat? The Rose hat is made with 95% bamboo with a touch of elastane which gives a luxurious, super soft feel with a natural fit. The hat is ideal for extra sensitive scalps because they don’t itch or have harsh areas that can irritate a bald head. A feminine and oh so stylish design, they’re easy to wear and can be put on in seconds – no faffing around with ties or loops.

Cancer Support Map

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23 Replies to “Quarter of survivors find life after cancer harder than actual treatment”

  1. I have been fighting Breast Cancer since 9.27.2012. I found the lump on myself self-breast exam. Immediately had my mammogram,biopsy and then had my left breast removed. I thought I had the top Oncologist and surgeon. Saw my Oncologist for 4 1/2 yrs went thru Femar, Ibrance,Flasodex, and Afinitor. Afinitor like about killed me kept taking him all the symptoms it was causing. He kept ignoring my complaints.Finally he took me off. I ended in the hospital. Found another Oncologist. Oh my God what a difference. The care, explanations, the patience, during your office visit, Yes, I must admit you have wait an hour or so to see him. BUT once he comes in the exam room. He actually ask how you have benn, listens to you, does not rush you in or out. You don’t feel like cattle at the slaughter pen. You have access to Literature, Cancer fighting foods, helpful hints on this fight against this Cancer demon. I have been given hope, yes I am still scared but have to think positive and pray.

  2. Its not just breast cancer patients. I have Lymphoma and just finished treatment. I struggle with fatigue and also knowing i cant be cured just treat. Its a lonely frightening road.

    1. I am also Lyphoma survivor and beeing in remission is not beeing cured. Have a loads of side effects after almost 2 years of last R CHOP chemo. Still not able to work.

    2. Hi Rose, I have just finished treatments for myeloma, also incurable, it is a scary road as you don’t know what lies ahead, and I have really struggled to keep food down after this last treatment which has left me struggling with energy, unable to sleep well to name a few. I understand your situation, I am on the same path xxx

  3. “Normal”??? I am now a damn freak with one breast and an arm twice the size of the other one. I’ve gained 40 lbs and have aged 3x faster than I would have otherwise.

    1. Thats how i felt, got so bad i asked for my right breast off. Could not cope witth waiting for the cancer to come back in the right breast. took me 4 years ro convince the doctor to take off the right one,. feel better for that but still hate my body and ALL the side effects having to cope with

  4. After cervical cancer , going through the treatment … I’m now struggling with all the side effect … it’s had a big impact on my life and has changed me so much … I found hard to except that the after care is just not there… I now suffer with bladder and bowel issues , osteopenia, early menopause, it’s so draining

  5. As a ovarian stage 4 & breast cancer stage 2 survivor ,and now the limphedemia I too struggle with all of the emotional bs that comes s with it, am I gonna be ok? Is it gonna come back , why did I survive & some one else loved one dies? Why me ? & Etc… But I know that the struggle will never be over as this is my journey and I don’t want anyone else in my family to have to bare! Or my friends ! I just feel I am still here as my journey is not done and I believe the cannabis oil ,and flower ,and edibles are key to getting thru what is trying kill you . Please open your mind to educate yourself as your in charge of what drives your soul , into knowing what is best for you & your healing. ! Me I prefer cannabis to opids any day of the year for any kind of pain that is associated with the cancer recovering process & my oncologist is amazed that I am still kickn it!! Peace & ❤

    1. You hit the nail on the head. It is very uncomfortable when people treat you differently after cancer. It solidifies fear and makes the journey so much harder. Although they mean well, they should treat you just like they did before. I know, I’ve been there.

  6. At 40 I had my right breast removed at 55 I had my left breast removed and at 69 I had a complete hysterectomy, am I scared, every day. At 38 my daughter had a double mastectomy and reconstruction, she will be spending her 40th birthday in Paris tomorrow, if she is scared you would never know it. I guess it just depends on how we are made up inside

  7. I was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year,they refused to give me a mastectomy because I was too high risk of infection,after 3 operation’s I was told I had to have a mastectomy,I’ve now had 4 operations in 11 weeks my last op was 8weeks ago and I had to have a bread reduction on the healthy breast at the same time as they did the mastectomy.I know I’m lucky I didn’t have chemo or radiotherapy,but I’m still getting pain and I get tired very easily,I also think I may have nerve damage in my left shoulder and arm,my consultant doesn’t seem interested,the cancer has gone and if i don’t need more surgery I should just wait ‘a bit’ longer to recover,I cant have fatigue because I didn’t have radiotherapy,and I am more scared now than when I was first diagnosed,sometimes you just don’t know what to do,if your consultant isn’t interested where are you supposed to turn

  8. I had ovarian cancer 3c six years ago and I struggle with tiredness and body image I have had further symptoms but the new doctors I am with show no interest at all (I have had rectal bleeding) I am finding it difficult but I am alive and I will carry on because I am beating this awful condition my advise to all is just carry on we are at the end of the day the lucky ones with love to all survivors xx

    1. Dear Jenny: I was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian in 2011. I then had a prophylactic masectomy in 2015. BCRA 1 positive. Rectal bleeding is a very serious symptom. If you Dr isn’t listening to tour concerns, please get a 2nd opinion ! Carry on Teal Sister !!! ❤

  9. Due to have lymph clearance week today and then radiotherapy and also tamoxifen. But reading the side effects of the drug together with the possibility of the lymphodema I am scared witless. So far the hospital support has been good at the main treatment stage. I have yet to discover what it will be like post treatment. In two minds now whether to go through with lymph clearance or drugs. So confused and upset frankly.

  10. I’m 2 years down the road from my second surgery for carcinoid having lost a kidney 3 years before and then needing lymph nodes removed and I still suffer from all of the above. I was told that it may have returned a few months back which put me into therapy. Luckily it hasn’t returned but I’ve been in pain for 2 years, am constantly exhausted, hate my body and my husband seeing it and am constantly thinking will it come back?

  11. I was diagnosed in 2012 with stage 3 breast cancer. Had surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Toughest year ever, I thought…… I will hopefully be given the all clear this December. It all feels like yesterday. I think about it daily. I still, 5 years later, get tired easily. I fm working but only 4 days. Don’t think I will ever be the same again. 2012 was just the start.

  12. I had stage 3 breast cancer in 2007, the chemo, mastectomy and rads totally trashed my body and head. 5 years later in 2012 I was diagnosed with womb cancer, luckily only stage 1 but they also found further breast cancer in a node on my mastectomy side. I had a full hysterectomy which paralysed my leg and left me even weaker than before. 4 weeks later I had the breast cancer removed. I’ve been left with ptsd, lymphodema, depression, anxiety and deteriorating mobility. Lost my home and security. Such little support or help is available. The only saving grace has been a support group started by another younger adult. Shine Cancer Support

  13. I had Breast cancer in 2012 and had mastectomy and lymph nodes removed followed by chemotherapy. Like many others I got through treatment and it was after treatment finished I had a bit of a meltdown. Stood in shower saw reflection of myself – hardly any hair, one boob and looked like a Michelin man!! I broke down for the first time since diagnosis. A young girl friend of my daughter was going through Breast cancer last year, and I did warn her to be aware that after treatment finishes is when you are the most vulnerable, as during treatment you have so many people around you that when it finishes, you feel very alone. If you know what to expect, it helps.
    I feel that it is drummed into Breast cancer patients so much that ‘you can never say your cured, because it can always come back ‘ , that you feel like you’ve got the sword of Damaclese hanging over your head!! Anyone can get cancer, I don’t feel the need to drum it into patients that ‘it may come back’!!
    To me the mind has a lot to do with healing the body. I imagined I had an invasion going on in my body and had crusaders on horseback gathering it in and chasing it out!!
    I’ve been ‘lucky’ and lead a full life, and I use sparkly nails and earrings to help me feel more feminine 😊

  14. I identify with many of these ladies and share some of their post-cancer symptoms and thoughts, but reading their comments, I see so many are so much worse off than me. It is a sobering thought and leaves me feeling both grateful and a little ashamed of whinging! Best wishes to all who share the cancer trail x

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