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After treatment how long to take to get back to feeling "normal"

Posts: 18
Joined: Nov 2010

I was diagnosed with colon cancer stage 2 in August of 2010. It tested high risk for reoccurrence and I had resection and 12 chemo treatments. I handled the chemo as well as can be expected. My last treatment was in 05/2011. I am fortunate as I do not have any signs of reoccurrence. I worked all the way through treatment. I have always been a very hard worker. Actually I had true passion for my work.

My problem is that I am always so tired and usually don’t feel well. Don’t remember things often and don’t feel like doing anything. I am always agitated about something. I question if I want to stay married, don’t seem to be interested in my grown kids, don’t enjoy working. (I think because my forgetfulness and errors) I seem not to have gone back to my usually happy self. Every small thing seems to throw me off kilter. It seems like it has been over a year and I should move on as there is no cancer to be found. Lab tests all come back perfect and colonoscopy came back great. I have so much to be thankful for… but my joints hurt, hands and feet sporadic pain, headaches, disinterest in sex, eyes burn, can’t sleep and right side pain under ribcage. Tests show nothing is wrong with me.

I am overweight but not huge. Prior to cancer I was very active and had a hard time sitting down. Now I am happiest just being left alone. Did anyone experience anything like this? Does it just take time to get back into the swing of things? I don’t mean to whine I am just a little tired of myself.

joemetz's picture
Posts: 493
Joined: Nov 2011

Thanks for your post.
It's hard to stand up and admit this type of stuff... but hopefully this is a breakthrough step for you to some happiness again.

I'm about a year behind you in the timeline of this crap, but thought I'd reach out after reading your post.

I've been around cancer for over 30 years... my mom had it four times and she's still with us. My two brothers each had some forms of cancer. One brother died from it 7 years ago, one is a 25 year survivor. I had cancer the first time in 1989 and the second time in 2011. I've watched others and have lived through this.... and you are NOT alone.

I recall my mom saying those same words... and my dad took her on a vacation.
Nothing too fancy, just a simple get away and it was the start at some recovery.

For me, there have been times when I sought out professional help and other times when I went to my priest. (or religious help). Either way, they have both been very helpful.

It's hard to make the first step when you're in a funk like you are. Believe me, I've been there. But, at a time like this it's hard to listen to anyone who you love to tell you what to do... so often its the outsider who can help you. So, my recommendation....

1. Set an appointment with a professional counselor our psychiatrist. Get an introductory meeting. Set the meeting for after #2 below

2. Go on a 4 day extended weekend vacation/get away. Go to someplace you've never been and do something you haven't done in awhile that you might enjoy.

3. Talk with your spouse about your feelings and concerns while on this vacation.

4. Go to the meeting with the pro

5. Set some goals to improve the FUN department of your life. Set goals for your purpose in life and future events that you look forward to.

6. begin to focus on the stuff that makes YOU happy. And, hopefully others will be happy with you on the journey.

Or make a plan of your own, using these and other ideas.... but this plan helped me a couple times.

and lastly... believe me... you are NOT alone!!!
What you're feeling is very common with us cancer fighters.


Posts: 18
Joined: Nov 2010

Thanks for your response. I took your advice and scheduled an appointment with my physician to seek a referral. I have never gone to counseling or a psychiatrist in the past but I think it would be helpful to just be able to talk to an outside person. I think I have held in so many feelings as to not burden or worry my family.

The solutions looked so obvious tonight. Funny, I'm not sure why I posted that evening but I am extremely grateful that I did.

Your comments were on target. The fun in life is missing and a small trip is another great idea. I appreciate all your suggestions and will use this as a beginning plan.

Thanks again and God bless you. :)


PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4912
Joined: May 2005

Personally, I believe that we get new normals after a cancer DX
and the surgery and whatever treatments one chooses.
What I found to be incredibly helpful was (and still is) finding a therapist/counselor to talk thing over with.
Maybe if you belong to a church there could be someone there to talk with.
The bottom line I think is that there's no way one can go through what we have and not have it change us...I think that it may be something worth exploring.

Posts: 18
Joined: Nov 2010

I do think normal changes at many stages in our lives. I think for me I just want life to happen more without too much thought. I want to take for granted life a little more and just let go and quit over-thinking. Instead of just taking grandkids to lessons, maybe I need schedule a lesson or two. Always thought it would be fun to learn to dance.

I do think it is time to talk to a therapist/counselor to help "find" myself. I made am appointment to seek a referral. I do feel differently but my biggest thought was if reoccurrence would have come back and not gone well; had I lived the life to help others and make a difference? Would I have a lot of regrets or would I have been pleased with what I was able to do for another? I thought perhaps I had put so much into family and work that there wasn't much else left.

All the sudden I don't want these family and work people to count on me so much. I would like them to do more for themselves and use the extra time to find a couple things that I really enjoy. I have thoughts running in my mind to plan a white water rafting trip. I have always wanted to do this. I feel excitement just thinking of ideas and not spending my time just be agitated at everyone. I hope these refreshing thoughts stay with me for a bit to allow me time to do something different and see how I feel.

A good Exploration is Due... Thanks so much for your words.

God Bless,

YoVita's picture
Posts: 590
Joined: Mar 2010

of Phil and Joe. Things aren't the same after the diagnosis - you are in a new normal and it helps to talk to someone outside of your inner circle. Good luck to you. And congratulations on your health status.

Posts: 18
Joined: Nov 2010

Thank you. I thought Phil and Joe's advice was right on target. I had actually forgot that I had posted that evening and was pleasantly surprised tonight when I found the post. Everyone is right on target. What a wonderful group of people to be so helpful and encouraging.

I do feel very pleased on my physical health status! When I get this mental thing worked out, I will be better, wiser and hopefully my new normal will be better than my old normal.

Thank you and God Bless,

Brenda Bricco
Posts: 579
Joined: Aug 2011

You got the advice that I would have given in earlier responses from the guys...

Although you are in a good place with the cancer (not having a a reoccurance) you are unfortunatley going through the motions that we go through when faced with this disease.
I for one don't think I will ever be the same but that doesn't have to be bad. No, we won't ever be the kind of folks that wish days away to get to something that we feel is worth while anymore. We will notice so much more, cherish our moments and also be subject to depression and personality changes.
My husband is the cc patient but I am no stranger to health trauma and what it can do to you, your family and what it's like to be robbed of happiness and hope. I am one of those people that ended up divorcing the father of my children/husband of almost 20 years and I can tell you that it wasn't the marriage that was causing my unhappiness; it was the emotional toll on my body and mind that was eating me up from the inside out. Please don't make any life altering decisions until you have asked for help. I think sometimes our pride keeps us from wanting to reach out and ask for help but if we can't do it for ourselves, maybe we can for the ones we love.
I hope you decide to make an appointment and see what can be done to help you. Until then, you have us to vent and bounce things off of. You are not alone and you now have many people thinking and praying for you.
GOD bless you.

Posts: 18
Joined: Nov 2010

I did receive good advice. I think if family members or co-workers would have suggested the same Ideas I am not sure I would not have heard so clearly. I am so glad I wrote this message and that I am putting together a plan. What a wonderful group of members here and straightforward good ideas that needed to be said.

Next March, we will have been married for 25 years. My husband is good he just doesn't know how to deal with me anymore. It is not his problem, I just need to find a little happiness myself to be easier to live with. No major decisions will be made.

If I could have shaken these feelings myself, I would have. I need an outside person that gives it to me straight. I am thrilled to get started with a new way for handling. I am so thankful that you all had ideas and not told be this was just the new normal. Love the thought of having a plan to find a better way.

God Bless you,

Posts: 2215
Joined: Oct 2011

I have had 12 rounds of treatment on 3 different occassions and the recovery time has varied from a month to over a year. Ironically this last time was the quickest at only a month even though the treatments themselves beat me down worse than before.

Posts: 18
Joined: Nov 2010

Bless your heart! Three separate times would be hard. I hope you are doing well now. Are you finished with treatment currently. May you stay strong with minimal symptoms.

My prayers are with you,

Goldie1's picture
Posts: 264
Joined: Sep 2011

If you had asked my husband, before his stage 4 cancer diagnosis, if he would take an anti-depressant or see a therapist, he would have laughed off both suggestions. Now, I can't tell you how much those two things have helped in his battle. He is back to work after 16 months while going for chemo every other week. His new normal has not been easy but it's nice to see a smile on his face and a interest in his favorite things again.

Take care,


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