“Every day starts with me not being dead. What a fantastic way to start each day”, says Jake Bailey.
Having the right approach, attitude and plan is important for cancer survivors to learn how to live – and thrive – with the uncertainty of cancer.
The success of cancer research and treatments means that for many living with cancer for many years after being diagnosed is a reality. Survival rates have increased significantly for most cancers over the last decade.
For many, it’s possible that they start paying a lot more attention to aches and pains in their body. The doctor says you have no signs of cancer, but can you be sure? Fear and uncertainty can grip you. This can lead you to having trouble sleeping, being close with your partner, and even making simple decisions. This is a normal side-effect of living with cancer – and the good news is, it does get better.
As time goes by, people say their fear of cancer returning (recurrence) decreases and they find themselves thinking less and less often about cancer. But even years after treatment, certain events may stir up this worry again, for instance: anniversary events (surgery, diagnosis etc), illness in the family, birthdays, medical visits, and the deaths of those around you.
Here are some ideas that have helped others deal with uncertainty and fear and feel more hopeful:
- Be informed. Learn what you can do for your health now and about the services available to you. This can give you a greater sense of control.
- Be aware that you don’t have control over cancer recurrence. It helps to accept this rather than fight it.
- Be aware of your fears, but don’t judge them. Practice letting them go. It’s normal for these thoughts to enter your mind, but you don’t have to keep them there.
- Express your feelings of fear or uncertainty with a trusted friend or counsellor. Being open and dealing with emotions helps many people feel less worried. People have found when they express strong feelings, like fear, they’re better able to let go of these feelings. Thinking and talking about your feelings can be hard. But if you find cancer is taking over your life, it often helps to find a way to express your feelings.
- Take in the present moment rather than thinking of an uncertain future or a difficult past. Find a way to feel peaceful inside yourself, even for a few minutes a day.
- Use your energy to focus on wellness and what you can do now to stay as healthy as possible. Try to make healthy diet changes.
- Find ways to help yourself relax.
- Be as physically active as you can.
- Control what you can. Being involved in your health care, getting back to your normal life, and making changes in your lifestyle are among the things you can control. Even setting a daily schedule can give you more power.
Read more about cancer at the Ministry of Health website.
We’re getting cancer on the run
Find out more about how Cancer Research Trust is getting cancer on the run.