Cancer Fears

Life changes immediately after hearing the words, “You have cancer.” At first, you can't think about anything else. All you feel is shock or numbness. It can be hard to believe.

Cancer affects each person differently. It may make no sense. You might wonder why this happened to you. There’s no right or wrong way to feel. Accepting your feelings without judgement is a good way to start your cancer journey. You might experience denial when cancer is first diagnosed. It can be hard to accept that you have cancer.

If denial lasts too long, it can keep you from getting the support and early treatment you need. Fortunately, many who are recently diagnosed are soon able to move on to accept the cancer diagnosis.

Start the Fight

Strengthen your ability to cope by:

Some deal with fears by learning as much as they can about their type of cancer and treatment. You can also join a cancer support group. Some choose not to discuss their cancer diagnosis with anyone for a while. This is a personal choice. You have the right to handle your cancer journey in your own way.

Fear of death is a common feeling for anyone facing a serious disease—especially in the early stages of diagnosis and treatment. These feelings often lessen with time as treatment begins. Cancer is not a death sentence. Today, there are close to 12 million cancer survivors living in the United States—and 28 million worldwide. Many cancer survivors are living healthy lives years after their cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Finding Hope

Hope is the belief that a positive outcome lies ahead. Hope is a way of thinking, feeling and acting. It can help you find ways to live with difficult situations. Even if some things about your future seem difficult, you can choose how you’ll face these challenges. Attitude affects everything. A cancer diagnosis is not what it used to be. Major advances in technologies, treatments and pain management options have been made in recent years. Denial is pretending things are going well when they really are not. Hope is being honest with yourself and positive about your future. Hope can help ease overwhelming doubts and fears.

New Priorities

What are your priorities? What things are important in your life? As you deal with cancer, you may find that your priorities change. You may have less energy or feel fatigued during treatment. You might decide to spend less time doing some activities. You might decide to spend more or less time with certain people. Your most important goals should become your top priorities.

Changes in your priorities can be confusing to you and those around you. Talk with friends and loved ones about your needs. Help them understand that there are reasons for your changing priorities. In most cases, people in your life will accept and support your choices.

The cancer journey can also bring good things. Here are what some survivors have said about their cancer experience:

As you go through the cancer experience, you will find ways to cope that work best for you. You have the right to choose how you want to live your life.