Anxiety and Depression After Finishing Cancer Treatment

The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: January 7, 2013

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Question

Even though I finished treatment now, I still feel depressed and anxious. Is this normal? What can I do about it? I just can't stop thinking, what if this comes back?

Answer

Kava Schafer, MDiv, MA, Chaplain at Penn Medicine responds:

I appreciate your question and I am a chaplain and would like to weigh in on your question. Maybe I have at one time met a person who had successfully finished treatment and did not admit to having a worry about recurrence, but I cannot remember such an encounter. Most people naturally and normally worry about this. And yet, if the fear becomes so large that it swallows up the energy for you to take advantage of life, I would encourage you to explore other resources for support. Counseling can often be helpful, a forum, a safe space for you to explore your feelings. Un-addressed anxiety can rob you of the peace that you deserve. There are many integrative healing modalities that offer benefit. I highly recommend Reiki as a gentle, non-invasive modality that often brings relaxation. There are some yoga sessions designed for people who have received treatment for cancer, so check with your doctor.

Finally, I encourage you to feel proud that you have finished treatment as this is a milestone for you. Celebrate what you have achieved and seek ways to restore your spirit after this journey.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire transcript from the Focus on Lung Cancer Webchat.