Fear of Recurrence
This is it. The number one, primary, central, core fear that we all share. No matter what our prognosis, not matter what the numbers and statistics predict, we are all very aware that we have no promises, and that there is a chance that cancer will return. For years, I have said that the goal is obvious: we must find a way to live as though the cancer is gone or our days are ruined by anxiety and sadness. If the cancer does come back, we will most certainly deal with it then; there will be no choice. In the meantime, and we hope that the "meantime" means the rest of our lives, we must focus on life.
Here is one certainty: time helps. If you are in the midst of adjuvant treatment or shortly past completion, cancer probably seems very present. For too long, for most of us, it is our last thought at night and our first though in the morning. As the months and years pass, if we are fortunate enough to stay well, those thoughts become less prominent, and you will find that you go days without thinking about it at all. There are predictable moments when the worries return: the days before an appointment or mammogram, if you hear bad news about a friend, or read an obituary where a stranger died from breast cancer.
Living Beyond Breast Cancer (www.lbbc.org) has a wonderful booklet about learning to live with and manage these fears. Full disclosure: I was part of the process of writing this book, so I may be prejudiced about its value. Here is the introduction and then a link to read or download the whole thing:
Our Guide to Understanding Fear of Recurrence will help you understand the common fear that cancer may return. You will learn how your personality, life situation, social support and diagnosis could impact your fears and how occasions and non-occasions might trigger worries. Get tips for transitioning into life after treatment and moving forward years after your diagnosis. View practical resources to help you cope and find support.
We thank Breast Cancer Network of Strength for helping us distribute the publication.
Download a free copy of our Guide to Understanding Fear of Recurrence.: