8 suggestions how to deal with the ‘after-chemo’ blues

Gisa Ellis-Mawer
Gisa Ellis-Mawer
The Founder of Gisa Ellis Consulting

When I had finished chemotherapy, I calculated that I had put 448,000mg of Capecitabine into my body over a 6-month period, which is a lot of drug when you think about it that way. Luckily, I could take tablets at home and I did not experience many of the side effects, apart from tiredness at times, stomach rumbling, numbness of finger tips and feeling a bit loopy occasionally.

When my eagerly awaited ‘end-of-chemo’ day came around, strangely I did not feel as happy as I thought I would. Even when my CT scan came back looking good, I still had this underlying, niggling feeling. I could not put my finger on it at first. When my nearest and dearest told me that this was good news, I did acknowledge congrats with great caution. The fact that I felt quite exhausted for a few days after chemo did not help either.

Thinking about it, I realised that the end of the treatment made me anxious because of the uncertainty. So far, going through the treatment, I felt something was being done, meaning putting something vicious in my body to keep ‘the little fuckers’ (as I call the cancer cells) in check. When treatment stopped, it almost felt like I was being pushed out in the cold, uncertain how the next phase of the journey will work out.

Chemo over, now what?

Speaking to other cancer patients about it, I realised that this is more common than I thought. So, I asked myself, “How can we deal with this kind of situation and make it easier for ourselves?”

I came up with the following 8 points:

1. Celebrate winning a battle, not the war (yet!)

Time will tell, for now you have won a battle, achieved a milestone. Time to celebrate and pat yourself and your body on the back. You have done marvellous!

2. Give yourself some ‘recovery’ time

Chemo drugs obviously are designed to work on getting rid of the cancer cells, but at the same time, they place a huge strain on your body and immune system. It is therefore important, to give yourself some time to get over it and build your system back up. Gentle does it!

3. Write down what you can do to support your healing process

You contribute a lot to our own healing, and you want to plan the kind of self-care you want to implement in our day to day life going forward, so that you will stick to it. This can refer to nutrition, exercise, supplements, time out, energy work; whatever you think will make a difference and support you on your ongoing healing journey.

4. Write down what you want to do going forward

Setting positive goals can stimulate you, raise our energy, make you happy and catapult us forward. Human beings are the happiest when we do something purposeful and/or doing something valuable for others.

5. Listen to your body without getting paranoid

It is important to listen to what your body tells you. Firstly, to make sure you treat your body well and keep it well-nourished and healthy. Secondly to detect early, any kind of changes that might need attention. The motto is ‘Vigilant, but relaxed’, so that we don’t get stressed out unnecessarily.

6. Get your teeth into something without wearing yourself out

Placing your focus on something other than your medical condition can help you overcome it. As the saying goes ‘where your focus is, your energy goes’, and you don’t want your energy going into worry. It is better placed into something meaningful, which may distract you from your woes completely.

7. Manage your fears through meditation and affirmations

It is only natural that fears will arise here and there, but you can manage them a lot better when you have a meditation routine firmly in place. It will help silence your mind and thoughts, and help you feel calm.

8. Practice gratitude and living in the moment

Whatever the situation, there is always something to be grateful for. Spiritual teachings tell us that when expressing gratitude, we will attract more good things. This includes enjoying the moment we live in now and making it count.

I would love to hear about your experiences! Love Gisa x





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