Five Ways to Manage the Fear of Breast Cancer Recurrence
Five Ways to Manage the Fear of Breast Cancer Recurrence
You’re just starting to feel like yourself again after your battle with breast cancer. You’ve made it through cancer treatment, be it chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgery – and you’re finally on the other side.
But as time goes on, you can’t help but worry about the possibility of recurrence. What if the breast cancer comes back? It's an unpleasant thought and one that many breast cancer survivors have in the back of their minds.
For most women living with the fear of breast cancer recurrence, it can be tough to manage your worry and stay positive. You may feel like you’re constantly on edge, waiting for the other shoe to drop... and when you don’t have any control over something as frightening as cancer, it can be hard to keep your spirits up.
Challenges When Dealing with Fear of Recurrence
Fear of breast cancer recurrence can lead to a number of challenges. Here are some of the most common:
1. Constantly worrying about the future.
Worrying about the future is one of the biggest challenges when living with the fear of cancer returning. Cancer survivors may find themselves constantly wondering “What if?” and trying to plan for every possible outcome. This can be both stressful and exhausting... and it can keep you from enjoying life in the present.
2. Feeling isolated.
When you’re living with a fear such as breast cancer recurrence, or have thoughts of a new cancer occurring, it can be tough to find people who understand what you’re going through. You may feel like you’re alone in your fears and worries, and this can lead to a sense of isolation.
3. Avoiding social activities.
It’s common to avoid social activities when you’re trying to manage your fears. After all, it can be difficult to face the questions and concerns of friends and family when you’re feeling so worried. You may find yourself canceling plans or avoiding social gatherings altogether.
4. Experiencing intrusive thoughts.
Intrusive thoughts are a common challenge when living with a fear of recurrence. These are unwanted thoughts or images that keep popping into your head, and they can be incredibly distressing.
5. Experiencing anxiety or depression.
Fear of recurrence can sometimes increase feelings of anxiety or depression. These are both difficult emotions to deal with, and they can make it hard to enjoy life. If you’re experiencing either of these, it’s important to seek help from a professional.
6. Finding it hard to concentrate on anything else.
When you’re consumed with worry, it can be hard to concentrate on anything else. You may find it hard to focus at work or home, and you may lose interest in activities that you used to enjoy.
7. Experiencing difficulty sleeping or eating.
It can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep or eat regular meals when you’re feeling anxious. You may find yourself tossing and turning all night, or eating unhealthy foods as a way to cope with your anxiety.
These are natural fears to have, and for many women, managing fear of breast cancer recurrence is a top priority. If you or a loved one are struggling with fear of cancer recurrence, please know that you are not alone. Thousands of people face this challenge every day, and there are many resources available to help you manage your fear... there are things breast cancer survivors can do to manage their fears of recurrence.
Acknowledge your Fear
The first step in managing your fear is to acknowledge that it’s there. Don’t try to ignore your fears or push them down – that’s only going to make them stronger. Accept that fear of recurrence is a natural reaction after a cancer diagnosis, and give yourself permission to feel scared.
When you acknowledge your fear, you’re accepting that it’s there. This can be a difficult step, but it’s an important one. When you accept that fear is a part of your life, you open yourself up to the possibility of managing it.
Talk to Others Who Understand What You’re Going Through
When you’re living with a fear of breast cancer coming back, it can be helpful to talk to others who understand what you’re going through.
There are many support groups and forums available online and in person, and these can be a great place for breast cancer survivors to share their fears and get support from others who understand what they’re going through.
Finding support groups
One of the best ways to find support is to join a support group. These groups are filled with women who understand what you’re going through, and they can offer you guidance and advice.
There are many different types of support groups, so it’s important to find one that fits your needs. You can find support groups online or in person.
Work with a cancer coach
If you’re struggling with fear of recurrence, working with a cancer coach can be incredibly helpful. A cancer coach is someone who has worked with other breast cancer survivors and has some insight into how you're feeling. They can provide you with support and guidance as you work through your fear.
Cancer coaches can help you set goals, manage your anxiety, and find ways to cope with your fear. They can also provide you with information about your cancer and how to reduce your risk of recurrence.
You can find a cancer coach by searching online or asking your doctor for a referral.
Seek professional help
If you’re struggling with coping with the fear of breast cancer recurrence, it may be a good idea to seek professional help. There are many different types of therapy available, so it’s important to find one that works for you. Some common therapies include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).
Manage Difficulty Sleeping
Sleep is an important part of our daily lives, and it’s especially important when you’re dealing with a fear of recurrence. When we’re tired, it can be hard to manage our emotions and stay positive. Getting enough sleep is essential for keeping your energy levels up and managing stress.
Some tips for getting a good night’s sleep include:
- Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine
- Avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed
- Using a noise machine or earplugs to block out noise
- Staying away from electronic screens before bed
- practicing relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation
Redirect Your Energy Towards Staying Healthy
The idea behind this is to take control of what you can. A healthy lifestyle will not only improve your quality of life but can also reduce your risk of recurrence. One way of doing this is to focus on nourishing your body with a proper diet.
A healthy diet gives you better nutrients to support your health which may make you feel more in control… if your diet is poor, you may not have the nutrients your body needs to support health. Key nutrients to support the nervous system include magnesium, Vit b6, and fiber.
In addition to eating a healthy diet, it’s important to stay active. Exercise releases endorphins, which can help improve your mood and reduce stress. Exercising also helps keep your body strong and healthy, which can lower your risk of recurrence.
There are many different types of exercise you can do, so it’s important to find something you enjoy. Some good exercises to try include walking, running, biking, swimming, and weightlifting.
Set Aside Time to Worry
Instead of allowing your fears and anxieties to hit you throughout the day, schedule time to worry as a separate activity. Make any time outside your worry time, a worry-free time. This will allow you to focus on other, more positive things outside your worry time, and give you a sense of control over your feelings.
Writing down your worries during your worry time helps separate you from your thoughts and learn to recognize and reframe fears. It's important not to let our thoughts become our beliefs.
The fear of breast cancer recurrence is a natural reaction to a cancer diagnosis, but it can be tough to manage. These five tips provide some ways to reduce your anxiety and take action to improve your health.
If you would like more information on how you can use nutrition and lifestyle strategies to encourage breast cancer recovery and discourage breast cancer recurrence, go ahead and CLICK THIS LINK to set up a 30-minute call to speak with me!
If you would like more information on nutrition and lifestyle strategies for breast cancer prevention and recovery, CLICK THIS LINK to join my free Facebook group called Breast Cancer Nutrition and Lifestyle Strategies for Prevention and Recovery to help support you in your journey and connect you with like-minded people.
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