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Cancer survivors: Managing your emotions after cancer treatment
Self-consciousness in cancer survivors
If surgery or other treatment changed your appearance, you might feel self-conscious about your body. Changes in skin color, weight gain or loss, the loss of a limb, or the placement of an ostomy might make you feel like you'd rather stay home, away from other people. You might withdraw from friends and family. And self-consciousness can strain your relationship with your partner if you don't feel worthy of love or affection.
Take time to grieve. But also learn to focus on the ways cancer has made you a stronger person and realize that you're more than the scars that cancer has left behind. When you're more confident about your appearance, others will feel more comfortable around you.
Loneliness in cancer survivors
You might feel as if others can't understand what you've been through, which makes it hard to relate to other people and can lead to loneliness. Friends and family might be unsure of how to help you, and some people may even be afraid of you because you've had cancer.
Don't deal with loneliness on your own. Consider joining a support group with other cancer survivors who are having the same emotions you are. Contact your local chapter of the American Cancer Society for more information. Or try an online message board for cancer survivors, such as the American Cancer Society's Cancer Survivors Network.
Where to go for help
While experiencing any of these emotions is normal, that doesn't mean you have to do it alone. If you find that your feelings are overwhelming you or interfering with your everyday life, it's a good idea to consider getting some help.
Sometimes talking with friends or family can help. But you might feel like those people can't truly understand what you're going through if they haven't had cancer. You might consider consulting:
- A therapist. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a professional who can help you sort through your emotions and come up with ways to deal with your feelings.
- Other cancer survivors. Support groups, whether in your community or online, provide a great place to share your feelings and hear from others who are going through what you're experiencing. You can learn new ways of coping with fears.
Devise your own plan for coping with your emotions. You know what works best for you. Have an open mind and try different strategies to find out what works best for you.Previous page
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- Facing forward: Life after cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/life-after-treatment/AllPages. Accessed Aug. 8, 2011.
- Coping with fear of recurrence. Cancer.Net. http://www.cancer.net/patient/Coping/Emotional+and+Physical+Matters/Fear+of+Recurrence. Accessed Aug. 8, 2011.