QUESTION: I finished treatments almost 4 years ago, but I am still struggling with fear. I’m haunted every day by worries about cancer returning. Am I the only one that struggles with fear? Did you go through that? – STILL SCARED
Dear Still Scared,
You are definitely not the only one. There are many threads of discussions on cancer community boards discussing this very topic.
It takes everyone different amounts of time and different ways to get through the trauma of cancer and cancer treatment. Some people take up meditation. Some people turn to religion. Some people throw themselves into non-cancer-related activities, like travel or knitting or sports. They ALL lean on their family and friends to remind them that you can’t live your life scared of something that MIGHT happen. You need to move on.
For me, I know that the statistical likelihood of getting cancer if you’ve had chemo PLUS the statistical likelihood of getting cancer in general as you get older…..I kind of just assume I’m going to get it again. Eventually. The trick is to catch it early enough that you can do something about it. And since I’ve beat it once, it’s totally a problem that I can get past again. So all I really need to do is make sure I keep up with my annual visits and be vigilante and everything will turn out fine.
That being said, I’m a big believer in the effects of having a positive attitude. This may not work for you. A lot of people who go through something like cancer, at any age, become depressed or can experience symptoms of PTSD. Bottling it up doesn’t help. Talk to your parents, your friends, your hospital support group. If you’ve gone this long and are still living in fear, it might be time to speak with a licensed professional.
You can’t let fear control your life. Don’t let the fear win. Don’t let the cancer win. You don’t need to be scared: been there, done that, brought home the trophy.
How did you cope with the fear of cancer returning? What did you use to get past the fear?