One of the most common challenges faced by cancer survivors is a fear of the illness returning. This fear can likely come and go for significant periods of time, affecting physical wellbeing and often the ability to simply enjoy life and plan for the future.
The worry can often strike hardest during occasions of significance such as anniversaries and special occasions like birthdays and holidays.
Cancer is most likely to reoccur in the first five years after treatment is concluded and after the 5-year period has passed, it generally becomes increasingly unlikely that the cancer will return. However, risk of cancer recurrence is different for each person and can depend on many factors such as genetic factors and cancer staging.
As a result, fear of cancer is commonplace amongst former patients and something that must be managed in order to ensure they can enjoy life and plan for the future without the restraints of fear.
One of the most useful tools in managing fear of cancer recurrence is focusing on what you can control. Making positive changes to your lifestyle will improve both your physical and mental wellbeing, as well as helping to reduce the risk of some cancers from either occurring or reoccurring.
Another effective method in combating anxieties is learning to recognise them when they occur, such as a sudden racing heartbeat or sleeplessness. Mindfulness meditation and sessions with a trusted counsellor or psychologist can help reframe your mindset and manage fear.
Psychological interventions regarding fear of cancer recurrence have also been shown to assist when required. Your GP can provide further information or the Cancer Council can be of assistance on 13 11 20.
Another significant tool assisting in managing fear is the realisation that you are not alone in the challenges you are facing. Support groups exist exclusively for family and friends as well as those for patients and survivors.
See your GP immediately if you notice any new symptoms or symptoms that have returned, don’t wait for your next check-up.
However, not all health-related issues are signs of cancer and it is recommended that you speak to your doctor about how to distinguish normal health issues from cancer symptoms.
31 October 2018