5 powerful ways to beat the fear of cancer recurrence
The fear of cancer clings by the throat even after the battle is long over!
The storm is gone, the battle is won, cancer is beaten. But the shaken heart still beats in fear. It knows that cancer can creep again to drag the tired fighter through hell and back. The fear of cancer recurrence is one of the most prominent challenges faced by survivors.
Some staggering statistics
Reports revealed 49 percent of cancer survivors experience moderate to high levels of fear of recurrence. 70 percent of them belong to the young group of women surviving breast cancer. Also, people who battled cancer with a high recurrence rate are more likely to experience the grip of fear. People with existing mental health issues are at a higher risk to fight the fear of recurrence.
7 percent of patients experience severe and disabling fear of recurrence. These patients get paranoid. They constantly think and talk about cancer. They find it difficult to focus on any other thing apart from cancer. They are constantly checking for signs of recurrence. They freak out even at the slightest sneeze.
The severity of fear of cancer recurrence
The fear of recurrence is a significant mental health issue. It may occur at different levels of severity. Ranging from mild occasional fear to the paralyzing fear. The mild fear of cancer recurrence eases over time. Though the fear may surface time and again triggered by stressors, it does not linger for long.
However, severe cases of fear may have devastating results. In these cases, the fear hovers over the head at all times. It does not need a trigger. Those who experience moderate to severe levels of fear have more frequent thoughts about cancer.
Research has shown a strong association between fear of recurrence and depression. Fear results in poorer quality of life and impaired functioning. It opens the doors to diseases and suffering.
Signs that say you need help
- Constant worry or anxiety.
- Feeling hopeless about the future
- Trouble sleeping
- Lost appetite
- Trouble making decisions
- Feeling shallow.
- Forgetfulness and distracted
Stress in cancer survivors
Cancer survivors often tussle through different types of stress. Sometimes it’s the finances and sometimes the transformed landscape of life. Sometimes it’s the changing dynamics of relations. Sometimes the badge of being a survivor comes with its own weight. Cancer survivors have different stresses to deal with!
Depression and anxiety in cancer survivors
Cancer leaves behind a hollow heart where loneliness often lingers. For many these feelings fizz out with time. For others, it develops into chronic depression. Discuss it with the doctor, opt for counselling or get the therapy. Depression is more than just a feeling!
Self-consciousness in cancer survivors
The exhausting battle ends up changing the appearance of a person. Be it the hair or health, the scars or weight, cancer changes people in and out. The survivors become self-conscious and may withdraw from friends and family.
Coping with fear of cancer recurrence
Cancer recurrence is a reality. And living with this reality is never easy. The sword of uncertainty hangs on the shoulder of this brave soldier. As such, it is important to remember that these feelings are natural. And that there are ways to ward them off!
- Be well informed: The best way to ward off the darkness of fear is through the light of knowledge. Discuss your chances of recurrence with the doctor. Know the preventives and the precautions. Go for follow-ups and regular check-ups. This will further forbid the fears.
- Acknowledge your emotions: Living in a denial is the biggest mistake. Ignoring or hiding them will just feed their fears. It often helps to open up about these thoughts to someone who can understand. Talking out loud about your concerns will help to get the load off the chest.
- Seek support: When the road is long, make sure you have the right company. Many cancer survivors join cancer support groups to find strength again. Support groups bring together people who share the same feelings and fears. Real survivor stories are the biggest source of strengths.
- Manage your stress: Stress is the last thing you would want after an exhausting battle. Some simple and effective ways to beat stress are –
- Choose healthy habits: Readjusting your lifestyle to incorporate healthy habits will build your confidence in cure. Eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly, and sleeping right are little things that make a big difference. Avoid unhealthy habits, like smoking and drinking. This will ensure health and peace.