Depression and anxiety
Lingering feelings of sadness and anger can interfere with your daily life. These emotions can be related to dealing with the social stigma, to changes in sexual function and to fear related to recurrence of the cancer after treatment. For many people, these feelings will go away, for others, these feelings can develop into depression or anxiety.
After your treatment is over, it can be difficult to go back to your normal routine – you may need to establish a new daily routine. This adjustment can make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. Don’t feel you need to do everything at once and take time to establish your new routine.
Fear of recurrence
Fear of recurrence is very common in cancer survivors, especially during the first few years your cancer is in remission. Over time the fear usually lessens and you won’t always feel so anxious. Be aware that your anxiety may temporarily increase at certain times, such as before follow-up care appointments, around the anniversary date of your diagnosis, or if a friend is diagnosed with cancer. It is important to remember that although you cannot control whether your cancer recurs, you can control how much you let the fear of recurrence affects your life. Be honest with yourself about your feelings and ensure that you are doing everything you can to stay healthy and reduce your risk for disease.
You might feel as if others can’t understand what you’ve been through, which makes it hard to relate to other people and can lead to loneliness. Friends and family might be unsure of how to help you, and some people may even be afraid of you because you’ve had cancer.[top title=”Top of page”]
For Emotional Wellness
Talk to a therapist.
Your doctor can refer you to a professional who can help you sort through your emotions and come up with ways to deal with your feelings.
Connect with other cancer survivors.
Support groups, whether at Kaiser Permanente, in the community or online, provide a great place to share your feelings and hear from others who are going through what you’re experiencing. You can learn new ways of coping with fears. Contact your local chapter of the American Cancer Society for more information. Or try an online message board for cancer survivors, such as the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Survivors Network.
Take care of your body.
Focus on keeping yourself healthy. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fit exercise into your day.
Go to all of your follow-up appointments.
Do not miss your follow-up appointments. Use the time with your doctor to ask questions about any signs or symptoms that worry you. Write down your concerns and discuss them at your next appointment. Ask about your risk of recurrence and what signs and symptoms to watch for.
Learning about your cancer, understanding what you can do for your health now, and finding out about the services available to you can give you a greater sense of control. Some studies even suggest that people who are well informed about their illness and treatment are more likely to follow their treatment plans and recover from cancer more quickly than those who are not
Get out of the house and find activities that will take your mind off your fears.
Express feelings of fear, anger, or sadness.
Talking about your fears and feelings with friends, family, other cancer survivors or a counselor can help. Writing down your thoughts in a journal can also help reduce your anxiety.
Look to others for Support.
Many cancer survivors find joining a support group to be helpful. Support groups offer the chance to share feelings and fears with others who understand, as well as to exchange practical information and helpful suggestions. The group experience can also create a sense of belonging that helps you feel less alone and more understood. Don’t deal with loneliness on your own. Consider joining a support group with other cancer survivors who are having the same emotions you are.
Control what you can.
Some people say that putting their lives in order makes them feel less fearful. Being involved in your health care, keeping your appointments, and making changes in your lifestyle are among the things you can control. Even setting a daily schedule can give you more power. And, while no one can control every thought, some say they’ve resolved not to dwell on the fearful ones.
Work toward having a positive attitude, which can help you feel better about life now.
Sometimes this means looking for what is good even in a bad time or trying to be hopeful instead of thinking the worst. Use your energy to focus on wellness and what you can do now to stay as healthy as possible. Don’t blame yourself for your cancer. Some people believe that they got cancer because of something they did or did not do. This is usually not true—and you should not dwell on feeling this way. Remember, cancer can happen to anyone. You don’t need to be upbeat all the time.
Find ways to help yourself relax.
Finding something you enjoy doing is important in helping you to relax. Some things that many people find helpful include time with loved ones, yoga, meditation, and gentle exercise. No one answer is right for everyone.[top title=”Top of page”]