When you started cancer treatment, you could not wait for the day you were done. But now that you have completed your treatment, you are not sure if you are ready to be treated as a cancer survivor.
When your treatment is complete, you will probably see your cancer care team less often. Although you, your friends, and your family all aim to return to a more normal life, it can be frightening to leave the protective cocoon of doctors and nurses who have helped you through a treatment.
Everything you feel right now is normal for cancer survivors. Recovery from cancer treatment is not just about your body, it's also about healing your mind.
Take time to acknowledge the fear, grief, and loneliness you are feeling. Then take steps to understand why you feel these feelings and what you can do about them.
Fear of recurrence in cancer survivors
Fear of recurrence is common among cancer survivors. Although they may not have any signs of disease for years, cancer survivors say the thought of recurrence is always with them. You may be worried that any pain or pain is a sign that your cancer is repeating. At some point these fears will fade, even if they may never completely disappear.
Manage your anxiety by being honest with your feelings. Do not try to feel guilty or ignore them in the hope that they will disappear. Ask your doctor what you can do to reduce the likelihood of cancer recurrence.
If you have made every effort to reduce this risk, acknowledge your fears. Take control of these fears and do what you can to influence your future health. Try:
Take care of your body. Concentrate on keeping yourself healthy. Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. Adapt the exercise to your day. Go easy at first, but try to increase the intensity and amount of exercise you get during recovery. Get enough sleep to make you feel better.
These actions can help your body recover from cancer treatment, and you can feel more at ease by giving you a better sense of control over your life.
Go to all your follow-up examinations. You can fear the worst when it's time for your next follow-up appointment. Do not let that stop you.
Use your doctor's time to ask questions about signs or symptoms that are troubling you. Write down your concerns and discuss them on your next appointment.
Ask about your risk of recurrence and the signs and symptoms you need to be aware of. If you know more, you can have better control.
Get all the follow-up tests. Discuss with your doctor the plans for follow-up and monitoring of your cancer. Together with you, you will create a specific follow-up plan tailored to your specific situation. Not everyone needs regular scans or blood tests.
Ask your doctor if you want to create a plan for future side effects of cancer therapy. Many cancer treatments can have side effects years later.
Be open to your fears. Share your worries with your friends, family, other cancer survivors, and your doctor or adviser. If you are not comfortable with the idea of discussing your fears, try keeping your thoughts in a journal.
Stay busy. Go out and look for activities that distract your fears.
Most cancer survivors report that the fear of recurrence subsides over time. However, certain events can trigger fears. Feelings may be particularly pronounced before attending a doctor's visit or the anniversary of your cancer diagnosis.
Stress in cancer survivors
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, you may have focused entirely on your treatment and your health. Now that you have completed the treatment, all these projects throughout the house and the things on your to-do list compete for your attention. This can make you feel stressed and overwhelmed.
Do not think that you have to do it all at once. Take time for yourself while setting up a new daily routine. Try to train, talk to other cancer survivors, and take time for activities that you like.
Depression and anxiety in cancer survivors
Persistent feelings of sadness and anger can affect your daily life. For many people, these feelings will disappear. For others, however, these feelings may develop into depression.
Tell your doctor about your feelings. If necessary, you can be referred to someone who can help you through talk therapy, medications, or both. Early diagnosis and immediate treatment are the key to successfully overcoming depression.
Confidence in cancer patients
If surgery or other treatment changes your appearance, your body may feel confident.
Changes in Skin Color Gaining or losing weight, losing a limb or placing an ostomy may make you feel as if you would rather stay home away from other people. They could withdraw from friends and family. Self-confidence can strain your relationship with your partner if you do not feel worthy of love or affection.
Take time to mourn. But also, learn to focus on the way cancer has made you a stronger person and realize that you are more than the scars cancer has left. If you feel safer with your looks, others will feel better in your environment.
Loneliness in Cancer Survivors
You may feel like others can not understand what you've been through, what makes it difficult to relate to other people, and can lead to loneliness. Friends and family may not be sure how to help you, and some people are even scared of you for having cancer.
Do not treat loneliness alone. Consider joining a support group with other cancer survivors who have the same emotions as you. Contact your local chapter of the American Cancer Society for more information. Or try an online forum for cancer patients, such as the Cancer Survivors Network of the American Cancer Society.
Where to Get Help
When these emotions are normal, that does not mean you have to do it alone. If you find that your feelings overpower you or interfere with your everyday life, it is a good idea to consider help.
Sometimes the conversation helps with friends or family. But you may feel that these people can not really understand what you are going through if they did not have cancer. You may want to consult:
A therapist. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist who can help you to understand your emotions and find ways to deal with your feelings.
Other Survivors of Cancer Support groups, whether in your community or online, provide a great place to share your feelings and hear from others who are experiencing your experiences. They can learn new ways of coping with fears.
You can also offer your other know-how to other patients undergoing active treatment and help them on their journey.
Create your own plan for coping with your emotions. You know what works best for you. Be open and try different strategies to find what works best for you.
Release date: 2005-10-07