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Fighting Feelings of Isolation After Treatment Ends

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on March 26, 2021

It’s common to have lots of emotions after treatment for prostate cancer is finished. Lots of people who've had cancer and are healing from treatment wonder what life after treatment will look like.

You might also feel isolated. Maybe you really miss your health care team and its support. Often, people with cancer feel like their safety net disappears when treatment ends. Even then, it’s not uncommon to still feel isolated from family members or friends.

What to Do

Express yourself. People share their emotions in different ways. Sometimes, talking to friends and family members can help. Other times, writing about your experience might make you feel better. Find something that works for you, and focus on it.

Stay active. Activities that can help you focus on things besides your cancer can really help. Even when you’re fighting feelings of isolation, being as active as possible can do wonders. Try to get out of the house. Simple activities to get you moving -- such as exercise, stretching, and yoga -- can help, too.

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Keep in touch with your health care team. If you miss the emotional support that the members of your team used to give you, think about talking with them. You can ask one of your doctors or nurses if you can call them every now and then. Calling a familiar nurse or doctor can let you stay connected.

Look for the good. Although it’s easier said than done, search out the positive. This can mean different things. Maybe it means being hopeful instead of imagining the worst. It could be seeing the good during bad times.

But don’t feel like you have to be upbeat when you’re not. It’s completely normal and OK to give in to your feelings sometimes.

Find ways to unwind. Using some stress-relieving techniques can help keep feelings of isolation at bay, too.

You could try:

  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Relaxation exercises

Discovering a new hobby or creative outlet can help, too.

Know that it’s OK to feel uncertain. Many people feel that way after prostate cancer treatment. You might realize you’ve been paying lots of attention to body aches, and now that treatment is over, you could feel scared that the cancer will come back. Some situations can stir up those feelings, even years after treatment, like anniversary dates (for example, the day you found out you have cancer) or follow-up visits.

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Recognize your uncertainty and address it by living in the present instead of thinking about an uncertain future or a painful past.

Focus on the things you can control. Taking a look at what you can change can put things into perspective. For example, some things you can control include making lifestyle changes and staying involved in your health care.  If you feel overwhelmed by it all, try making a daily schedule. It can give you a better sense of control.

Where to Go for Help

If you’re fighting feelings of isolation after prostate cancer treatment, you can always tell your doctor. They might also be able to connect you to more resources.

Family and friends are good choices, too. But sometimes, people who had cancer feel like their circle can’t really understand, since they haven’t had cancer.

You can also connect with a therapist, a mental health specialist who can help you navigate your emotions. Your doctor might be able to recommend who to see.

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Other people with cancer can also be good sources of support. You can connect with some through support groups. You can find a group online or within your community. You can listen to what others have to say about their experience and share your emotions, all while learning new ways to handle things.

Whatever you try, it's important to have an open mind. Don’t be afraid to try different things. You may find one that really helps.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Cancer survivors: Managing your emotions after cancer treatment.”

National Cancer Institute: “Feelings and Cancer.”

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: “Your Emotions after Treatment.”

Prostate Cancer Foundation: “Prostate Cancer and Depression."

Prostate Cancer UK: “Living with Cancer.”

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