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Cancer Health Center

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Cancer Support: Dealing With Emotions and Fears - Topic Overview

"When you hear the word 'cancer,' the worry begins. Am I going to survive this? How is it going to affect my family? I couldn't seem to focus on anything except cancer, and I felt like I'd lost control of my own thoughts. A friend suggested starting a journal, and I found that writing out my thoughts allowed me to let go of them a little. Putting them on paper somehow gave them less power over me." -Evelyn, 61

"My first reaction was why did this happen to me? I felt like I didn't deserve a cancer diagnosis, and I was really angry about it. I mentioned to my doctor that I felt angry all the time, and she referred me to a counselor. I was reluctant to try counseling at first, but talking to someone really helped me work through what I was feeling. It was a big relief." -Riley, 48

Anxiety, fear, and emotions

The time after a cancer diagnosis can be very difficult. You and your loved ones may be feeling all kinds of emotions. The path ahead may seem confusing and scary. You probably have anxious thoughts swirling around in your head at all hours of the day and night.

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • "I'm afraid of the pain and side effects of treatment."
  • "I worry about how cancer will change my relationship with my spouse."
  • "Am I going to die?"
  • "Who will take care of my family if something happens to me?"
  • "Why me?"
  • "What if I get well, but the cancer comes back later?"
  • "I don't want to be a burden to my friends and family while I'm sick."
  • "I don't know how I'll manage paying all my medical bills."

It's common to have many emotions, or none. Everyone reacts differently. And your feelings may change often, without warning.

Building resilience

Now is the time to focus on your resilience. Resilience is an "inner strength" that helps you bounce back after stressful situations. When you are resilient, you may recover more quickly from setbacks or difficult changes, including illness.

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