Coping with the Fear of Recurrence

A recurrence is defined as the return of cancer after a period where no cancer cells are detected in the body. Cancer survivors have shared that even as they return to their normal lives, eat well, exercise well and go for medical follow-ups, the fear of a recurrence often plagues their thoughts.

Fortunately, although you do not have control over certain aspects of your cancer, there are ways that you can cope with the fear of cancer recurrence:

Acknowledge your Fear
Some events may trigger anxieties about your health. Follow-up visits to the doctor, undergoing medical examinations, birthday celebrations, illness in the family, learning that someone you know has had recurrence, or experiencing symptoms similar to ones you had when you discovered cancer, can trigger the fear of recurrence.

It is normal for a cancer survivor to feel fear. Acknowledging this fear allows you to grow in self-awareness and manage your anxiety better. This may keep you vigilant in addressing any medical concerns.

Please note, however, that this fear should not be persistent or impede your day-to-day functioning. If you find yourself overwhelmed, do open up to a trusted friend or contact your CanHOPE counsellor for support.

Talk to People You Trust
Talking can be therapeutic. Through conversations with trusted people, you may gain insights into your psyche, reframe your negative perspectives and learn new coping strategies. Sharing your thoughts and feelings may also help release tensions and build a deeper sense of connectedness.

If you find comfort and inspiration in connecting with other cancer survivors, please be welcome to participate in CanHOPE support programmes.

Relaxation Activities
Engaging in relaxation activities regularly can help you manage the anxiety and fear of recurrence. Do explore various stress relieving exercises and find one that suits your lifestyle and interests. You may find joy in a solitary pursuit such as inline skating, jogging, personal training or swimming, or in a group-based activity such as line-dancing or practicing Taiji.

Be open to explore the myriad of activities that are available near your home or workplace.

When Further Help is Needed
Despite your efforts to cope, there may be times where you find yourself trapped in a negative state or are unable to uplift your spirits. This may be a good time to seek professional assistance such as counselling or group therapy. You may request a referral to a counsellor from your primary doctor, or you may directly request for an appointment by contacting the counsellor.