At the end of active treatment, many survivors often have mixed emotions, including relief that their treatment is over, as well as anxiety about the future. After treatment, the "safety net" of regular, frequent contact with the health care team ends.
Some survivors may miss this source of support, especially because anxieties may surface at this time. Others may have physical problems, psychological problems, sexual problems, and fertility concerns. Many survivors feel guilty about surviving, having lost friends or loved ones to the disease. Some survivors are uncertain about their future, while others experience discrimination at work or find that their social network feels inadequate. Find out more about coping with such concerns and learn more about the next steps to take in survivorship.
Fear of Recurrence
Fear of recurrence (cancer that comes back after treatment) is common among most cancer survivors. It may lead a person to worry over common physical problems, such as headaches, coughs, and joint stiffness. It is hard to know what is "normal" and what needs to be reported to the doctor. Discussing the actual risk of recurrence with your doctor and the symptoms to report can often lower your anxiety. Maintaining a regular schedule of follow-up visits can also provide a sense of control. Although many cancer survivors describe feeling scared and nervous about routine follow-up visits and tests, these feelings may ease with time.
When active treatment is over, some survivors need different types of support than they had before. Some friends may become closer, while others distance themselves. Families can become overprotective or may have exhausted their ability to be supportive. Relationship problems that may have been ignored before cancer can surface. The entire family is changed by the cancer experience in ways they may not be aware of. Recognizing and working through these changes are needed to help you get the support you need, and some people find that counseling helps. Open and ongoing communication helps with adapting to life and shifting relationships after cancer.