"People need to realise that after all your cancer treatment, your mind plays tricks on you. I have honestly been to hell and back. It is after your treatment that you need care. I feel totally alone." Woman living with depression, two years after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Do these words strike a chord with any of you? This quote is from one of the many people who have told us that they are struggling with the long-term effects of cancer and its treatment. 

I think we can all agree that it’s good news that more and more people are surviving cancer, and that people with incurable cancer are living longer. But it’s important to remember that surviving is not always the same as being well. 

Last week, Macmillan published research that shows that one in four people who have previously been diagnosed with cancer are still facing poor health or disability. The most common issues are fatigue, sexual difficulties and mental health problems.

"After I was diagnosed with womb cancer in 2011, I found it exceptionally difficult to get information on how the treatment might affect my sexual relationships. I experienced a range of side effects from pelvic radiotherapy, including hot flushes and premature menopause, and for several months afterwards I wasn't able to have an orgasm. Before I was diagnosed, I felt comfortable talking about sex, but having cancer changed that. I found it a very isolating experience." Vanessa, 42, south-west England

Cancer treatment can be gruelling and intensive, so it’s not surprising that some people are left with long-term physical issues. And, after what can be a traumatic and distressing experience, the emotional impact can also continue to affect people for some time. 

I also know from many of our Community members that they can be left feeling really isolated. Sexual and emotional difficulties can have an impact on people’s relationships, and a variety of issues can affect their work and social life. 

Macmillan is calling for the NHS to do more to identify patients at risk of these problems and offer a ‘recovery package’ of support at the end of treatment. 

Get support 

Have you been affected by the long-term consequences of cancer and its treatment? What support would help you to cope? Let us know your experience in the comments below.