Coping after treatment has finished

Many parents tell us that when treatment ends, things start to get really tough emotionally. 

Parents' experiences post treatment

“People seem to forget quite quickly and even now that treatment has stopped the worry doesn't go away. But to the outside world it's all finished. Our children are still trying to cope with the aftermath.”

“I was fine up until treatment ended and whilst I was so happy it was over, I knew the comfort blanket had been whipped away.”

“In the 18 months since remission I've had many ups and downs. I don't think the fear will ever truly pass but it is more manageable now.”

“I think whilst it's all happening you just cope, you have to. I knew if I cried I wouldn't have stopped. It was only when my son came home the stress really came out.”

“A year after the start of treatment I hit a wall in energy and emotions. I seemed to become more broken as time went on and the first initial shock and motivation to get through everything and keep everyone happy started to wear me out.”

If your child has recently finished treatment

Although it’s what every parent wants to hear, the expectation of ‘getting back to normal’ after what you’ve been through could leave you feeling uncertain and overwhelmed. 

That steady network of hospital support begins to drop away. Friends and family’s expectations change.

“As our daughter's hair grows back, strength returns, and good days outweigh bad, support from others wanes.” 

Fear and anxiety could set in about what the future stores. You might have been on auto pilot for so long that your emotions could only just start to hit home. 

Having mixed feelings is completely normal - what you’re going through is by no means straightforward. My child has finished treatment is information put together by Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG) and will help you to work through the immediate aftercare, practical issues, your feelings and moving forward.

If you’re still struggling years on

Even many years into the future, your experience may still be affecting your day to day life.  This is the point where it’s vital to get professional help. No matter how long it’s been since your experience, there is nothing wrong with seeking help now. 

“It was a year or so afterwards that I struggled, had bad depression etc. It took a long time to heal.”

Counselling and therapy could help you to focus on creating a better environment and moving forward in life. It could help you to explore your past and present situation and deal with issues that have developed as a result of traumatic experiences.

Your GP might be able to refer you to a counsellor or therapist. There are also plenty of compassionate and helpful organisations, ready to support anyone who is struggling. 

If you are a bereaved parent

If you have suffered a bereavement, there are specialist organisations there to support you with the loss of your child. You might also want to look at our information about the future which contains a video featuring other parents speaking about ‘carrying on’ after this happens. 

Where next?

Created August 2017, next review due 2019.