The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: January 26, 2012
I am nearing the end of my treatments and finding myself anxious and worried about my future. What if the cancer returns?
Tracy Lautenbach, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, Oncology Social Worker at Penn Medicine, responds:
Fear of recurrence or fear of your cancer coming back is one of the most common worries that anyone with a cancer diagnosis goes through and a very normal reaction to a having a cancer diagnosis. You are not alone in these fears, but knowing what triggers your fears and how to manage your feelings can help you cope. There are many factors that may influence your fear of the cancer coming back. Often, these fears are shaped by your own personal coping style, life style, and situations affecting your life.
During treatment you are completely immersed in the "cancer world" and ending treatment often brings up anxiety as many people feel protected and that they are doing something to treat their cancer. Moving forward may be hard, but remembering that you did everything you could to treat the cancer can give you strength through this time. Over time this feeling should get less as your start to develop the "new normal." Now you have time to slow down and process this experience and how it has affected you and your life changes. Many times during treatment you are in "crisis mode" as well as just trying to manage your day to day life while managing side effects of your treatment.
If you find it hard to move forward, it may be helpful to talk about your feelings. Sometimes people find it helpful to talk with someone outside the family such as a mental health professional, attending a support group or talking to a family member or friend who you trust. It is important to know that you are not alone and that there are resources available to help you through this time.
This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Focus on Gynecologic Cancers transcript.