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Living Well After a Serious Illness

If you or a loved one is recovering from cancer or another serious illness, patience, realistic expectations, and a good attitude can all help. And living a full and rewarding life may be easier if you keep these things in mind:

  • Find a healthy way to manage stress. Finishing treatments and moving on is exciting, but it can also be very stressful. A relaxing bath, meditation, soothing music, or a short stroll outside can help reduce stress and promote healing.
  • Expect to feel a wide range of emotions as you ease back into your life. Fear, anger and resentment are as common as relief, joy, and happiness. A counselor or therapist can help you recognize and respond to your feelings appropriately.
  • Be open and honest in your communications with your family and friends. Your illness has affected them as well, and they may be uncertain how to support you once your treatment has ended. Talk to them about what kind of support you need, and allow them to share in the joy as you regain your health.
  • Maintain – or even expand – your support network. While family and close friends may have provided care during your treatment period, now is the time to nurture and build your social connections as well.
  • Remember that you are still the same person. You may have changed your outlook, but you’ll still have many of the same problems -- and opportunities – as you did before your illness. How you handle them is the real difference.
  • Look for the positive every day. You know more than ever what’s important, so let go of the small negative things that are dragging you down. You’ll be surprised how insignificant some of them may seem in just a few days.
  • Make health and well being a top priority. Eating a balanced and colorful diet, getting plenty of quality sleep, pursuing hobbies, spending time with the people you love, and taking time to laugh will help ensure that you are living every day to the fullest.


See how others have survived serious illnesses and are now back to living their lives here. Share your own story of overcoming illness and inspire others by participating in our “El Camino Hospital and Me” project.

This article first appeared in the September 2013 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.