Coping With Fear Of Recurrence

Cancer Survivor

Cancer Survivor

Fear of recurrence is an integral part of a cancer survivors psychology. Howsoever one may dislike negative thoughts it cannot be denied that they do walk into your life.

With the passage of time their frequency and gravity lessens but the fact remains that they walk in without knocking and then conscious effort has to be made to bid them adieu. Let us discuss about coping with fear of recurrence in this article Let us start by sharing an interesting story from Greek mythology.

The Sword of Damocles

Dionysius II was a tyrant in the Greek area of Italy. For everyone Dionysius was a rich man who lead a life of comfort and luxuries. He had the best of clothes and jewelery to enjoy. He enjoyed scrumptious food while his courtiers flattered him.

One of his courtiers Damocles used to comment on the life of the tyrant. He used to complement the tyrant about his wealth, a life filled with luxury and the abundant power.

One day Dionysius invited Damocles to live his life and see for himself how lucky he was. It was like a wish granted and Damocles readily agreed.

Dionysius ordered the best of the feasts to be prepared for Damocles. All arrangements were made so that Damocles could experience a day in the life of Dionysius. As Dionysius sat enjoying the huge feast that had been arranged for him he noticed a sword hanging over his head. He looked up and realized just a horse hair had been used for hanging the sword.

After this embroiled in fear Damocles was not able to enjoy the delicious food that had been spread in front of me and Dionysius explained to Damocles that this was the life of a king. Damocles understood what a good life was and returned back home.

Cancer-The Sword in a Survivor’s Life

When we import this story from Greek mythology into the life of a cancer survivor it would not be difficult to understand that his life is embroiled in a fear, in a fear of RECURRENCE and the survivor needs skills in coping with the fear. Even if the best of doctors, trusted physicians would tell the patient again and again that you are cancer free, the thought that may be its lying dormant in the body at this moment and it can raise its hood anytime is more than enough to cause distress.

My Personal Take On Coping With Fear

If you would ask me what is my take on this, I would be truthful and say that YES there are days when it is my story. Every time you do a self check (which is quite often), the slightest of things being here and there is sufficient to make you feel tensed, a call from the laboratory that the mammogram needs to be done again is sufficient to make you feel distressed, and anything in the report that you do not understand is sufficient to flush out color from your otherwise vibrant face and an unexplained pain can be absolutely debilitating. Even with the gift of life spread in front, the thought that the sword of cancer is hanging still may crop up every now and then. It feels like a sword suspended over the head using a horse thread.

Survivorship may become an issue!!

We are happy to be alive, but there could be patients who may suddenly be overcome with a guilt for being a survivor. Suddenly the thought ‘Why Me?’ may crop up in an all together different perspective. While the thought usually crops up at the time of diagnosis, it may also be common when you come to know of a patient who did not survive. This may suddenly prompt you in a mode where one may start thinking ‘Why not me?’ Howsoever justified, you may start questioning your survival.

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Dealing with survivorship is a challenge in itself, maybe not as big as dealing with the disease and the treatment but definitely significant.  At the juncture where the disease is overcome starts another battle with a fear, the fear of recurrence. Surviving is one aspect and conquering another.

Heal as a Person

images (2)Luckily, I do not stay in this deep, dark pit for long but I cannot deny that I do not fall into it.  Your partner, your family and most of all you yourself can play an important role in pulling yourself up and seeing the bright light and coping with the fear of recurrence.  Work to heal your total personality and not just your body. Let the sun shine on you.

It was just a phase, cancer is just a word and do not let it become the story of your life.

Channelize all your energies and just hum along the Beetles song

“Here comes the sun (doo doo doo doo)

Here comes the sun, and I say      It’s all right…………………”

The song is available at this link (Click on image below to play video)


Every time I listen to it brings a smile on my my face. I always think that the band is performing for me.

It was one of my favorite songs during treatment and still continues to be.

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes………….

Smile and Be Happy!!

  • meetunayyar-photo
  • meetunayyar
  • A lawyer by profession, social worker and a fighter against cancer