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Life after cancer – the survivors’ journey 

Cancer continues to affect the lives of those it touches long after the disease has disappeared. “As a survivor, you’re still dealing with the ramifications of treatment while grappling with what it means to have gone through this traumatic experience. This is a period of transition,” says Tom McNeil, a social worker with the Cape Breton Cancer Centre.

Life after cancerLife after cancer is often filled with conflicting emotions. “You are grateful and happy – and more appreciative. But you’re also afraid of a recurrence,” says Tom. “Then you feel guilty because you think you should feel grateful.”

“It is,” he adds, “a grieving process – for loss of a body part, loss of time from life. At the same time, survivors are grappling with who they are now. They see themselves differently.”

“Surviving cancer is a big deal: a big, wonderful, horrible, important, mundane, crazy, sad, and joyous long-running event.”

Cancer Survivor (quoted in Magee and Scalzo, 2007)

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