Post-Cancer emotions

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Ask any Cancer Survivor what they want their life to be like post-cancer and 90% will probably reference Lance Armstrong - no they don’t want to get on a bike and win the Tour de France several times - but they would like their lives back!

This can often be hard to achieve, the emotional rollercoaster post cancer is enough to drive you crazy. Here we list some of the common feelings.

  • Fear
    It varies but nearly every cancer survivor experiences a fear of the cancer recurring. This can be caused by the lack of treatment, or not feeling you are being as well monitored.
  • Grief
    This is an odd one - but quite common. Surviving cancer is no small task, one that can often leave much in its wake, costing patients their financial security, their jobs, and possibly even their ability to function physically. As a result, grief can set in. For those suffering from grief, support groups and grief counselors can be a useful means to longterm grief management.
  • Guilt
    In much the same way as soldiers return from wars where fellow soldiers and friends may have died, cancer survivors can experience guilt simply because they survived while knowing countless others did not.

    Guilt can also be the result of a cancer survivor feeling he was far too big a burden on family and friends during his treatment. While these feelings are common, they are also fruitless, as there’s no reason to feel guilty for surviving cancer.

  • Uncertainty
    This is experienced in varying degrees depending on the individual. Still, uncertainty is one of the more common emotional side effects, experienced by every cancer survivor to some degree, according to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

    Uncertainty about planning too far ahead with family or feeling uncertain about follow-up visits with your physician are all common. Also, what used to be common nuisances such as a cold or headache might now leave survivors wondering as to whether it’s just a cold or headache or an indicator that cancer might be coming back.

  • Spiritual confusion
    This can often be the result of several of the above emotional responses. Questions such as “Why me?” are often asked by survivors who are feeling both guilty that they survived while others did not and uncertain as to why their life had to take such a sharp turn while others’ lives did not. Also, those who are grieving over what they lost during treatment might begin to feel confused as they try and reestablish a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives.
  • Anger
    While some cancer survivors feel a sense of relief simply for being alive, others might feel angry for a variety of reasons. Anger over a decline in physical condition or decreased capacity are common with patients who continue to focus on what they lost as a result of cancer.

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