We often celebrate the time when a loved one has come to the end of a long, dreary, painful treatment for cancer. We regard it like an end of an era and overcoming the biggest challenge of a lifetime. While it is that and more, I have realised we ignore a very important factor in this journey of battling cancer. While I coach and counsel patients through their treatment phase, I know nearing the end is by far an accomplishment, but one that is not ridden of fear and anxiety.
At this time the people around you are immensely happy and relieved as the treatment ends and so are you, but there is a whole other ocean of emotions that follow post treatment. You feel guilty or ungrateful to bring it up, so instead you fight this battle alone by yourself. This is the fear of relapse. The feeling that the ordeal you just went through might return. This fear can be debilitating, sometimes even more so than you how you felt when you were first diagnosed. You want to express it but find no way that is justifiable to yourself or your loved ones, however it’s the most common feeling that you can go through. It’s also one that is very controllable and solvable.
Here are two ways that you can start to work on overcoming the fear of relapse. They seem really simple but extremely efficient.
1. Focus on the present moment
We tend to live most of our time (mentally) in the past or the future, but the key is to focus on the now. Every time you go back to the past or try to anticipate the future, bring yourself back to this moment that you’re living right now. Make this a habit, and it will soon become natural. So how do you bring yourself back to the present moment? Utilise your senses, see and concentrate on what’s in front of you. Focus your attention. Listen to the sounds around, smell, taste, touch and bring yourself back to where you are right now. It will give you a sense of relief and understanding that the thoughts of the past and the future is actually creating the fear and the present moment has none of it.
2. Don’t presume anything
If we feel a little bit of discomfort or a symptom, we start fearing the worst. Presuming it could be something related to the cancer. Why do I feel like this? This doesn’t feel natural. Is the cancer back? What if it is, how will I get through it this time? Are some thoughts that flood our mind at the time, but these are all presumptions that will only create panic and at most times than not, are false. It’s wiser to be aware and mindful of any symptom and get expert opinion before making any assumption. Give yourself
time before creating false illusions in your mind. Seek medical opinion (if required) first and then make all the assumptions you would like, but this time it will be the right one.
These two practices sound easier said than done, however does wonders once it becomes natural, however it will only become a part of your natural reaction when its practiced diligently.