For most people, especially those who have been away from home for a long period, the end of treatment represents a new beginning rather than simply a return to their prior existence. Many people return to the security of strong and supportive family and friends. Family roles however, may have changed and may have to be re-negotiated. Relationships may need to be rebuilt away from the hustle and bustle of the hospital.
It is common to feel that others do not fully understand the difficult time you may have spent in the hospital setting. It is natural therefore to sometimes feel a sense that you have changed in ways that may have separated you emotionally from previously close family and friends upon returning home.
While many people have the expectation that a return to home means a return to 'normal', most find that their normal has changed and it can take some time to re-adjust into home life.
For up to a year following the end of treatment you may find that your focus moves from your physical to your emotional needs. It is normal to have mixed feelings about leaving the hospital and the treating staff. Some people experience a sense of grief about letting go of the intense and close relationships they have formed, as well as a nervousness about dealing with any physical problems they may experience away from the security of the hospital. You may feel vulnerable and uncertain about dealing with normal aches and pains, or coughs and colds which arise during this time.
In many cases feelings about the diagnosis and treatment may have been put 'on hold' during the demanding treatment periodand may now surface and need to be dealt with. There may be an expectation from others however, that everything is over and that there shouldn't be any remaining distressing emotions to deal with.
• Re-entry to 'normal' life takes time and adjustment. Allow yourself and your family time to get used to being together again and appreciate that there will be setbacksand challenges.
• Talk to someone who understands your situation. Perhaps someone who has been through a similar experience to yours.
• Think about what is the best next step for you. For some going back to work gives a sense of being productive and useful again. For others time to 'take stock' or go on a holiday are the best ways to get back on top of things.
• Understand that your friends or work colleagues may feel uncomfortable discussing your illness and that you may need to 'break the ice' first.
• The support staff at the Leukaemia Foundation will be sensitive to your adjustment needs and are there to offer support at this time.
• You may benefit from counselling. The Leukaemia Foundation support staff, hospital social worker, community nurse, or your general practitioner will advise you on available services in your area.