This year we recognize National Cancer Survivors Day on June 6th. National Cancer Survivors Day is a celebration for those who have survived, and an inspiration for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of support for families, and an outreach to the community.
If you are or a loved one of yours has experienced cancer then you may already know the various challenges and feelings that go with it. How do you cope and move on as a cancer survivor? It will probably look different for everyone. Here we will cover some of the emotions that you may experience to hopefully help guide you through the cancer survivor phase of your life.
Understanding your feelings
If you have finished your treatments and you get the news that you are in fact cancer-free you may experience any of the following emotions in waves.
- Relief – Your treatments were a success and you can start to discover what your new normal can be.
- Isolation – You require fewer appointments with your health care team and you have some “free time” back. Your relationships may change or people may not understand what you have been through.
- Fear – Will the cancer return? Am I truly in the clear?
- Uncertainty – You may be reluctant to plan your future. Not sure what the future of your health is.
- Frustration – You get frustrated with others and their expectations of you. Or you get frustrated with yourself and the limitations you are faced with at times.
- Survivor guilt – Why did you survive when others did not.
- Anxiety about follow-up appointments – Going to these appointments may bring back old feelings or you fear you will hear bad news.
- Worry – Whether it is financial concerns, side effects from treatments, or returning to work.
- Loss of confidence – You feel different about your health or body image.
- Feelings of depression – Overwhelming feelings of everything you have been through make you feel sad or depressed.
- Heightened emotions – When people ask you how you are doing it makes you feel even more emotional. Or you find that you cry during situations that would not have made you cry previously.
- Anger – You feel anger about the impact that cancer has made on your life.
There is a range of emotions that you may feel during different points of your life and experiencing cancer is no exception. Each phase of cancer is challenging. You may not always know how to navigate the next steps in life. We share this with you because we want you to know your feelings are valid and it is okay to feel the way you are feeling. Embrace that you are a cancer survivor. If you are comfortable with it, share your story to help others. It may also be a good idea to find a support group or program that helps to empower you to get through this phase of your life. Not sure what your next steps should be? Talk to your doctor. OB-GYN Women’s Centre is committed to the care and treatment of every woman.