How to Cope With the Fear of Cancer Recurrence

While going into cancer remission can bring a great sense of relief, it’s incredibly normal to develop anxiety or fear of your cancer coming back. This anxiety can feel very disruptive to your daily life and drain your energy.

If you’re going through fear of cancer recurrence, know you’re not alone. Any uncomfortable feelings you have after cancer remission are valid, and it’s something many cancer survivors experience. 

You don’t have to be stuck in a place of fear. Here we have some tips to help you cope with the fear of cancer recurrence, so you can move forward with courage and hope.

1. Focus on Things Within Your Control

Sometimes the fear of cancer recurrence can instill a sense of powerlessness. The next time you feel overwhelmed, consider taking a deep breath and consciously focusing on the positive choices you can make in the moment. 

Maybe this can be practicing some self care, or reaching out to a close friend for coffee. You may also take a stroll in your favorite park and enjoy some fresh air. Shifting focus to things you can control can help you feel empowered and better able to cope with your fears. 

“Focus on things that are within your control, like exercising, eating well, and managing stress. Spend time with those who bring you joy. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.”

Caryn S.

2. Make New Memories With Loved Ones

Pictured above is Jaxson Martinez and family, whose story is part of the CaringBridge How We Heal Series.

Even though modern life demands making plans and keeping schedules, it’s important to focus on the here and now whenever possible. Remember that the past and the future are only ever in your mind. Breathe into the present moment and notice the beautiful and joyous things around you. 

Do your best to focus on making precious memories with the people closest to you. It can be as simple as reading a book with your children, or trying a new recipe with friends. This will help you live more fully in the present moment, and also give you something cheerful to look back on when times are tough.

“Strong faith…make memories with family and friends…eat better, watch the the life you have. I had breast cancer and am a 5 year survivor…but we never know what will come in the future. Laugh, love and dance if you can.”

Carol W. 

3. Build Relationships With Your Medical Professionals

It is completely normal to have questions for your doctors and care teams, especially during cancer remission. The fear of cancer recurrence is enough to cause distress, let alone putting your full trust in someone to care for you. 

Creating meaningful relationships with your doctors and care teams can help ease the strain. Know that you have the ability to ask questions if you’re confused, express your worries, or to challenge claims you don’t agree with. The more you share with your medical professionals, the better they are able to answer your questions and concerns. Over time, their guidance may be able to help you move forward with confidence. 

“Have faith and trust in your medical professionals. That’s what keeps me grounded.”

John S. 

4. Try Not to Dwell on Negative Thoughts

It’s perfectly normal to have negative thoughts daily. It’s all part of being human. The key is to not let those thoughts overwhelm you or dwell on them too long.

When you have negative thoughts related to cancer recurrence, acknowledge them. Be gentle with yourself and show yourself compassion for having these thoughts. Then, try to move on. Shift to thoughts and decisions that feel most loving to you.

Whether it’s gratitude for a loved one, remembering a cherished memory or anticipating a fun event, you have the power to uplift yourself.

“I try not to dwell on negative thoughts as they do come to mind often, but again getting onto better things: prayer, family, daily activities that I enjoy, one step at a time.” 

Christine P.B.

5. Practice Prayer, Meditations & Affirmations

Pictured above is the Schwab family, whose story is part of the CaringBridge How We Heal Series.

Many people find peace in praying and meditating. If this feels right to you, there are many prayers and meditations you can try. If you want, ask loved ones to join in your practice for extra support.

If praying and meditating isn’t for you, that’s okay. Another route you can try is saying some gentle affirmations. Whether you affirm your beauty out loud each morning or express gratitude for your strong body in writing, do what makes you feel best. 

“Faith in God. Keep praying and don’t give up! Spend lots of time with family and good friends! One day at a time!”

Julie C.

6. Set Small, Achievable Goals

It’s very easy to get trapped in a cycle of worry and fear, especially about cancer recurrence. Setting achievable goals gives us somewhere productive to direct our energy and can make us feel accomplished.

When it comes to choosing goals, keep them simple. A goal doesn’t have to be a distant finish line that takes months to achieve. It can be as easy as going for a walk each day, trying a new recipe once a week or reading a book once a month. Try creating goals centered around your own sense of happiness and joy.

“Thank God for my strength and courage. Set goals that I can succeed at.”

Christine P.B.

7. Journal Through Your Thoughts

Sometimes it helps to get everything down on paper. Whether you enjoy online journals or traditional notebooks, writing in a journal can help you sort out your feelings. Whether you express your thoughts, list your goals or write down everything you’re grateful for, there’s no wrong way to use a journal.

If you prefer typing or an online journal, the CaringBridge Journal is a free tool you can use. Write down your stories and share them with your family and friends, or choose to keep your thoughts private. You have complete control over who sees your online journal.

How Do You Move Forward?

If you’re struggling with anxiety, fear, apprehension and other emotions that come with cancer remission, know you are not alone. For those who are learning to cope with the fear of cancer recurrence, how did you move forward? Please feel free to share your stories and advice in the comments below. 

Don’t Go Through Your Health Journey Alone

You can stay connected to friends and family, plan and coordinate meals, and experience love from any distance.

All of this is ready for you when you start your personal CaringBridge site, which is completely free of charge, ad-free, private and secure. Don’t spend another minute alone!

  • Margie Searl

    In my experience, anxiety can also be helped by meeting with a good psychotherapist or pastoral counselor, or joining a cancer support group. Being able to express these scary thoughts can be a way to help dissolve them.