Break out of Cancer Prison

Fear of cancer returning can keep you in a prison
Fear of cancer returning can keep you in a prison

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?


As always, would love to get your take in the comments. Feel free to ask a question and get updates by liking me on Facebook or following me on Twitter!


Cancer Shouldn’t Get You Dumped

Relationships don't stop because you have cancer.
Relationships don’t stop because you have cancer.

QUESTION: I’ve just been diagnosed with cancer and I’m terrified about telling my friends. I don’t know how they’ll react. Particularly my boyfriend – what if he dumps me? He’s my first real boyfriend, so I don’t really know what to do.  – DON’T WANT TO BE DUMPED


Dear Don’t Want to be Dumped,

That is a perfectly reasonable thing to be worried about. People react in a lot of different ways when their friends get cancer. Some of them are awesome and keep you sane; others drift away. The trick is to find out who is who quickly, so you can focus on them and not worry about the others.

I was scared of the same thing when I was diagnosed, but my boyfriend at the time, Nate, was really sweet about it. It took him a couple of minutes to process, but then he stayed by my side and supported me through the whole thing. I dragged him out of choir practice to go to the salon with me when I decided to shave my head. He visited me in the hospital. He continued to find me sexy, even when I was bald. He thought wearing different wigs on different days was hilarious… but I made sure to wear his favorite blond one when we were going out on a date.

We eventually did break up, but it had nothing to do with the cancer. We had been together for a year and a half, had grown apart, and both of us were ready to move on.

What would you do if he came to you and said he was sick? You would try to take care of him, right? I know he’s a guy, but give him some credit. You’re dating him for a reason. Or, alternatively, think about it this way: What kind of jerk dumps a girl when she’s just received such horrible news? Why would you want to be dating him anyway?


How did your significant other react when you were diagnosed? Were there any reactions that really surprised you?


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