Europe comprises only one-eighth of the total world population but has around one-quarter of the global total of cancer cases with some 3.7 million new patients per year, according to WHO Europe.
Although these numbers are scary, in Europe there have been continuous increases in 5-year survival rates for the most common cancer types in all countries. Considering the increasing number of cancer survivors, resulting from a combination of early detection and improved survival rates after treatment, interventions to support the survivorship phase have grown in importance and urgency.
People who have been diagnosed with cancer face many difficulties, including high levels of distress, anxiety, depression, and symptoms such as fatigue, pain and sleep disturbance, side effects to treatment, doubts regarding sexuality, infertility, and self-esteem. They experience major changes in daily activities and social, family, and professional roles, as well as fear of death and recurrence. Many of these difficulties may persist in the survival phase.
Cancer survivors should take a holistic approach to quality of life and include physical, psycho-social and spiritual needs when designing their follow-up cancer care plan.
I have finished my cancer treatment, what now?
Each patient has a different challenge or need. After months or years of cancer treatment, many feel completely depleted. Others may feel lonely, after the period of having so much care and attention, or lost, trying to figure out how to navigate the world with fears or sequelae.
“While I was having chemo, I quit doing almost everything. So, when treatment ended, the challenge for me was, what am I going to do now with my life? What should I go back to doing?” — LEN
When treatment is over, you will need some time to recover and then, when you are well again, you may want to make some changes to your lifestyle.
Maybe you already had a healthy lifestyle before treatment, but now you will be more focused on doing the most for your health. There are things that can help your body recover and improve your sense of well-being. Some measures can also help reduce your risk of getting other diseases and developing other types of cancer.
Many people who start to worry about their health try to lead a less sedentary life, reduce alcohol consumption, stop smoking, and not stress about small things. In short, it is time to re-evaluate life and make changes.
How we can help you at New Life Portugal
According to Marina Neumann, our Program Manager and Certified Mindfulness for Cancer Patients Teacher (MBCT-Ca), and a cancer survivor herself, a mindfulness approach can be adaptable to a wide range of circumstances, including living with cancer and surviving from cancer.
Realising that the only right thing in life is change and that sometimes the best thing to do to solve a problem is to accept it, can be quite liberating and reassuring for people who are desperately trying to fix things. Acceptance helps us acknowledge the facts and helps to replace blame with acceptance of the reality of loss and suffering.
Change occurs not only through mental training, with the practice of mindfulness, but also through a change in attitude and perspective, seeing your current conditions in a new light, without allowing fear to consume people and dictate their behaviour. This approach can give energy and motivation to follow the road of life, whatever the future holds.
Most people experience fear, anxiety and often depression. After treatment, however positive the prognosis, for most people, the fear of relapse remains, which can make every pain or sensation potentially life-threatening and result in constant anxious monitoring. Mindfulness practices allow you to shorten this process, preventing these escalations.
Many of these cancer-related problems can be managed with mindfulness training, which can be very helpful in dealing with the uncontrollable, unpredictable, and emotionally charged stressors of life. Mindfulness-Based Interventions (IBMs) offer a form of emotion-focused management that allows people to embrace uncertainty.
Learn more about mindfulness.
Counselling and Trauma-Informed Care
The end of cancer treatment can be a time of mixed emotions. You will probably feel relieved, but you may also feel anxiety and uncertainty. It is normal to experience emotional changes at this stage. It is, therefore, important to give yourself time to adjust and cope. Our team of counsellors and life coaches will gently guide you through your challenges and hopes. Learn more about our approach in the Resilience Path.
Nature provides patients with unburdened physical and psychic space invested with personal significance. Findings propose nature’s role as a “secure base” offering patients a familiar and nurturing context from which new perspectives can emerge and caring connections can be made with themselves, others, the past, and the future. As such, nature supported patients to navigate the clinical and personal consequences of cancer. Comprehensive representation of cancer patients’ nature experiences identified patient values and care opportunities embedded in clinical and personal environments.
Nature can give big support in recovering from cancer and cancer treatments. According to a study published by BMC Cancer, being in Nature helps with connecting with what is valued; being elsewhere, seeing and feeling differently; exploration, inner and outer excursions; home and safe; symbolism, understanding and communicating differently; benefitting from old and new physical activities; and, enriching aesthetic experiences.
One of the practices we suggest at New Life Portugal is Forest Baths. Phytoncides are detected in the forest air, like what we have at Serra da Estrela. These findings indicate that forest bathing also increased NK activity. Natural killer (NK) cells are a type of immune cell that enzymes that can kill tumour cells or cells infected with a virus activity.
After going through so many treatments and medication, our body also needs energy and rest. Through natural and nutrient rich food we can help our bodies become stronger and healthier.
You can also choose to increase your vitality through yoga classes or a personalised program with our Wellness Coordinator. You can learn more about our Wellness Path.
Contact us so we can help you design your personalised program. Our Admissions Manager and Counselling team will answer all your questions and understand your needs.