OPS – A Big Obstacle to Cancer Recovery


OPS is short for “Other People’s Stuff”. It means the unhelpful thoughts and expectations other people have of what a cancer survivor should be able to do after medical treatment ends.

 Many people think life snaps back the way it was before cancer, unaware that many physical side effects of treatment linger for months and even years. These unrealistic expectations can be a source of tension for the survivor as well as the people surrounding her.

OPS can appear in many forms. Sometimes it is “in your face” with people saying ignorant things. Or it can be the opposite, with people withholding information or access because of judgments they make about your health status. It is almost never malicious. But it hurts just the same.

You can encounter OPS with anyone including care providers, loved ones, work colleagues, friends, and the general public too. Our post “Return to Work Woes” has an example of how OPS can impact the workplace.

No matter where we find OPS, the pressure to perform at an unreachable level in an unrealistic timeframe is an obstacle that can be difficult to overcome. It’s this inability to talk about the real needs of cancer recovery that so often prolongs the healing process for survivors.

 Overcoming OPS

Talking about the hard realities of cancer recovery is an effective remedy for those experiencing or contributing to OPS. These crucial conversations are an important skill to embrace, but difficult to learn. The Thrivorship community can be a helpful source of information to share with others to broaden their understanding of the healing challenges after cancer treatment. Our community is a safe space to meet new comrades, learn new skills and find resources to help you overcome OPS and other obstacles to recovery.  Join us!