Emotional Health After Cancer Treatment

Patients often have difficult emotions after a traumatic experience like cancer, and may struggle with:
 

Fear of recurrence 

Almost 80 percent of all survivors experience some degree of fear of recurrence or worry their cancer might come back.

Post-traumatic stress

Studies show more than 35 percent of cancer survivors experience feelings of post-traumatic stress.

Coping with changes to your body

Cancer treatment often results in changes to your body.  Some of these changes may be short-term and others may be permanent.  Acknowledging and processing these changes, such as the loss of your breasts or hair, the presence of scars, or changes in weight, is part of the recovery process for cancer survivors.

Anxiety

More than 25 percent of long-term cancer survivors report anxiety, a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease. It’s normal to feel emotionally drained and anxious when dealing with cancer, and for many, this feeling can last long after active treatment ends.

Depression

It’s normal for your cancer experience to make you feel sad or down, but about 15 percent of cancer survivors experience depression. These feelings can be intense and last long after treatment is over.

Survivor guilt

More than 60 percent of cancer survivors report feelings of guilt, grief and loss that they survived when others didn’t. Post-traumatic growth - While survivors might not say they are glad they had cancer, more than 80 percent say they experienced positive changes as a result of their experience. Many have a greater appreciation for life, a deeper understanding of their own strength or resilience, have stronger relationships, or have made positive changes because of their cancer experience. These are some common feelings you might experience after completing treatment. Talking to a professional can help you navigate these emotions. You can reach a social worker by calling the Division of Clinical Social Work at 626-256-4673, ext. 62282.

Spirituality and Faith

When coping with cancer, survivors often reflect on issues related to spirituality such as the purpose of life, the meaning of suffering, the meaning of their illness and what they value most in life. Regardless of how it is practiced, spirituality can be an important aspect of life and a source of comfort after a major illness.

Support services

The Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center offers information, education and support, as well as programs including support groups, classes, music and art therapy and more to help you cope with your feelings. Call 626-218-2273 for more information.

City of Hope offers a variety of supportive programs:
  • Meditation  
  • Yoga
  • Massage
  • Tai chi
  • Support groups
  • Guided meditation videos
 
 

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