After a cancer diagnosis, here are some of the more common emotions you may experience.
Surviving cancer is something that changes you and stirs up many emotions, both good and bad. The experience may cause you to reevaluate your life and shift your priorities. Whether you plan a trip around the world because you realize life is too short or you vow to slow down and appreciate the little things instead of rushing through each day, chances are that the person you are following a cancer diagnosis is different than the person you were before.
Here are some of the more common ways your outlook may change once you become a cancer survivor:
- You’ll make the most of every day. Did you always dream of kayaking in Colorado or seeing Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower? You may feel that now is the time to do the things in your life that you never made time for in the past. You may also want to spend more time with loved ones or reconnect with someone you’ve lost touch with over the years. It’s healthy to embrace these emotions and make the most of every day.
- You’ll be anxious to re-establish a routine. One of the frustrations that many patients cite during cancer treatment is losing control of their daily routines. Suddenly doctor appointments and treatment sessions take priority over anything you may have valued and enjoyed in the past. Once treatment is over, you’ll likely find joy in controlling your own schedule again.
- You may want to shift your work-life balance. You may not have minded working a 60-hour week before you had cancer, but now work alone likely doesn’t fulfill you. There’s nothing wrong with changing the priorities in your life to fit what you need now. You may want to look into reducing your work hours if you can or may even prefer to find a new job or consider early retirement.
- You may feel survivor’s guilt. While you have earned the right to celebrate surviving cancer, you may not always feel like celebrating. If you know others who didn’t survive similar battles, you may feel guilty that you did. Know that these feelings are common and allow yourself to feel the way you do. If you are struggling with your emotions, consider joining a support group or speak to a counselor.
- You may be fearful of getting sick again. While cancer may have never been a thought in your head before you were diagnosed, you may find yourself thinking and worrying about it on a regular basis now. Take control of these fears by following doctor recommendations to stay on top of your health. Don’t skip follow-up scans or appointments. Make changes in your life that will help you feel healthier, such as losing weight or exercising more. This can help you regain a sense of control over your health.
- You may feel unattractive. Even if your outward appearance is the same as before, you may feel less attractive after you have cancer. Buying a new outfit, joining an exercise class or trying a new hairstyle can help boost your confidence. Remember that you beat cancer so you are strong. Your strength and resilience makes you more attractive than you may realize, both inside and out.
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Date Last Reviewed: April 14, 2022
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Dietary Review: Perry Pitkow, MD