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Managing Anxiety and Distress in Cancer Survivors

Being diagnosed with cancer and going through exhaustive treatment is stressful. It is normal for a person with cancer or a cancer survivor to have feelings of anxiety, worry, fear, and depression. When you were diagnosed with cancer, you might have concentrated completely on your treatment and getting healthy. Now after treatment is completed, instead of being happy and relax, you feel stressed and overwhelmed. This is quite normal. Don’t feel you need to do everything at once. Take time for yourself as you start a new daily routine. Try exercising, talking with other cancer survivors and taking time for activities you enjoy.

In this blog we will discuss why people feel anxious even after treatment is over and how to deal wit it.

Fear of recurrence:

Fear of recurrence is a major source of distress for many survivors. They are always worried that cancer will come back, or recur. People often feel especially anxious when they are due for a scan or other follow-up medical visit. Fear of recurrence is the most common emotional difficulty when they have completed cancer treatment. while a certain amount of anxiety is normal, for some survivors it can become debilitating.

Research shows that anxiety and distress are more common in long-term cancer survivors. In addition to the fear of recurrence, other sources of cancer-related distress for survivors include concerns about family and finances, changes in body image and sexuality, and the challenges of managing their long-term health needs.


When you were diagnosed with cancer, your main focus was treatment and getting healthy. Now that treatment is over, you feel stressed and overwhelmed. Take time for yourself as you establish a new daily routine. Try exercising, talking with other cancer survivors and taking time for activities you enjoy.

Depression and anxiety

If you continuously feel sadness and anger it can interfere with your daily life. Some people cope with this feeling over time while for others, it develops into depression.

Tell your doctor about what you feel. If needed, you can take experts help who can help you through talk therapy, medication or both. Early diagnosis and quick treatment are keys to successfully overcoming depression.


 Sometimes, surgery or other treatment changed your appearance, and you might feel self-conscious about your body. Sometimes treatment changes 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 stress your relationship with your partner if you don’t feel worthy of love or affection.

Take time to lament. But also learn to focus on the ways. Cancer has made you a stronger person and understand that you are more than the scars that cancer has left behind. When you feel confident about your appearance, others will also feel the same for you.


You might feel that people are not understanding your perspective which makes it hard to relate to other people and can lead to loneliness. Do not deal with loneliness on your own. Consider joining a support group with other cancer survivors who are having the same emotions you are.

Where to go for help

cognitive behavioral therapy

Approaches that have been shown to be helpful for managing anxiety and distress in cancer survivors include a type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, self-management, exercise etc. Your psychiatrist even prescribes some antianxiety or antidepressant medications if required.

Support groups

Support groups can be very helpful in taking you out of this situation. If you do not find a suitable support group near you place you can take help of online groups. The growth of online support groups for survivors of diverse cancer types and treatments has made these resources accessible to far more people.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

One approach that could help cancer survivors cope with distress is a newer form of cognitive behavioral therapy called acceptance and commitment therapy. This therapy helps survivors in figuring out what they can change by captivating specific actions consistent with their values, yet recognizing the parts of their experience they cannot change. Cancer survivors may always have concerns that the cancer will come back, but this therapy can teach skills that help them live with greater ease with those unchangeable realities.


Exercise can boost your mood, concentration and alertness. It can even help give you a positive outlook on life. The link between exercise and mental health is complicated. Inactivity can be both a cause and a consequence of mental illness, for example. But there are lots of ways that exercise can benefit your mental health. The levels of chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, stress hormones and endorphins, change when you exercise. Exercise can distract you from negative thoughts and provide opportunities to try new experiences.

Ways to Cope with Your Emotions

Express Your Feelings

People have found that when they express strong feelings like anger or sadness, they’re more able to let go of them. Some sort out their feelings by talking to friends or family, other cancer survivors, a support group, or a counselor. But even if you prefer not to discuss your cancer with others, you can still sort out your feelings by thinking about them or writing them down.

Be Positive

Sometimes this means looking for the good even in a bad time or trying to be hopeful instead of thinking the worst. Try to use your energy to focus on wellness and what you can do now to stay as healthy as possible.

Don’t Blame Yourself for Your Cancer

Some people believe that they got cancer because of something they did or did not do. But scientists don’t know why one person gets cancer and one person doesn’t. All bodies are different. Remember, cancer can happen to anyone.

You Choose When to Talk about Your Cancer

It can be hard for people to know how to talk to you about your cancer. Often loved ones mean well, but they don’t know what to say or how to act. You can make them feel more at ease by asking them what they think or how they feel.

Find Ways to Help Yourself Relaxed

Whatever activity helps you unwind, you should take some time to do it. Meditation, guided imagery, and relaxation exercises are just a few ways that have been shown to help others; these may help you relax when you feel worried.

Be as Active as You Can

Getting out of the house and doing something can help you focus on other things besides cancer and the worries it brings. Exercise or gentle yoga and stretching can help too.

Look for Things You Enjoy

You may like hobbies such as woodworking, photography, reading, or crafts. Do what you love to do. Try to fulfil your hobby. This will give you a confidence to move ahead and forget your past.

Be organized

Some people say that putting their lives in order helps. Being involved in your health care, keeping your appointments, and making changes in your lifestyle are among the things you can control. Even setting a daily schedule can give you a sense of control. And while no one can control every thought, some say that they try not to dwell on the fearful ones, but instead do what they can to enjoy the positive parts of life.


Everything you feel about yourself is normal. Recovering from cancer treatment is not just about your body. It is also about healing your mind. Take time to acknowledge the fear, grief and loneliness you’re feeling right now. Then take steps to understand why you feel these emotions and what you can do about them.


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