Worrying that the cancer will come back
It’s normal to worry about the cancer coming back and wonder about how you would react and cope if it did.
At first you may think that every ache, pain, runny nose or general unwell feeling means that the cancer has returned. You may worry so much that you find yourself at the doctor’s office more than usual. Remember that not every symptom means that the cancer has returned.
As time goes by, most people find that their fears fade and they worry less. But sometimes life events or reminders of past experiences can make you very anxious again. These reminders include:
- follow-up visits to your doctor
- having symptoms similar to the ones that led to your diagnosis
- dates such as the date of diagnosis or surgery
- hearing of someone’s new cancer diagnosis
- the death of someone who had cancer
- walking or driving past the hospital where you had your treatment
If you find that you’re worried and anxious all the time, or if your anxiety is interfering with your daily life, you may want to talk to a counsellor. It is important to get worries under control so you can focus on living, take care of your health and make the most of each day.
While you can’t control whether or not your cancer comes back, there are some things that you can do to help you cope.
- Talk to your doctor about regular follow-up care. Your doctor can also give you information about the chances of cancer recurring and the symptoms to watch for.
- Be informed. 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.
- Accept and talk about your worries. You will probably find, as do other survivors, that it’s easier to let the feelings go once you’ve expressed them. You can talk to friends or family, other cancer survivors or a counsellor.
- Try to use your energy to focus on wellness and what you can do now to stay as healthy as possible. You might focus on eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep. All these activities can help you feel better physically and emotionally.
Great progress has been made
Some cancers, such as thyroid and testicular, have survival rates of over 90%. Other cancers, such as pancreatic, brain and esophageal, continue to have very low survival rates.