Fear of Recurrence


One of the major issues cancer survivors mentally struggle with is fear of recurrence.

“For many cancer survivors, fears of recurrence can result in persistent anxiety and difficulties in planning for the future.” Hewitt, M., Greenfield S., and Stovall, E. (2006). From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor Lost in Transition. Washington, DC: The National Academic Press. p. 69.


I have definitely experienced this. I remember one night feeling despondent, worrying about if “it” was going to come back. I cried, prayed and finally a mental image of a stop sign came to mind. I literally told myself to stop. Now if the haunting thoughts of “what if” pop into my head, I tell myself STOP! No! I visualize the stop sign, a reminder. I don’t let myself tumble down the road of paralyzing fear. Besides fear, one thing being a cancer patient brings is mental toughness. Worry doesn’t help. I give it to God.

Cancer-related Post-traumatic Stress


Some patients develop post-traumatic stress while going through the trauma of treatment. This can include anxiety, nightmares, disturbing thoughts, irritability, and other assorted symptoms.

“Patients dealing with cancer may have symptoms of post-traumatic stress at any point from diagnosis through treatment, after treatment is complete, or during possible recurrence of the cancer.” National Cancer Institute. (2015). Cancer-related Post-traumatic Stress. Retrieved October 29th, 2015, from http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/survivorship/new-normal/ptsd-pdq


While undergoing treatment, I remember waking up from a nightmare feeling that even in my dreams I was being pursued by cancer. I also had anxiety and disturbing thoughts that would sometime spin me into a frenzy of panic. It helped for me to take deep breaths, talk to my nurse and doctor, seek comfort from family and other survivors, and to journal which allowed me to express my thoughts and feelings onto the page and out of my mind. It was definitely a time to accept help and not go through the cancer experience alone.

(This blog post was updated on October 29th, 2015)

Nurse Talk & Survivor Speak | Blog Posts [Valid RSS]

About my blog: I’ve written two sections for each blog post; Nurse Talk and Survivor Speak. Each post describes thoughts and perspectives I have gained over the years from working as an oncology nurse and from being a cancer patient. My desire is that these posts will be both informative and inspirational for health care professionals and cancer patients alike. It is from these experiences and hope that I have drawn to write my book Both Sides of the Bedside


The “Nurse Talk” blogs are based on my reflections as an oncology nurse and might include some medical reference information.

Blog survivor section dividerChristine_cancer_survivor

The bond that forms when people are touched in the middle of their tragedy by a survivor’s story is a beautiful thing. I hope my “Survivor Speak” reflections offer insight and comfort to those battling cancer.

Medical Disclaimer: Please Read

These Blog Posts are based on material that is in my book and based on my own experiences as an oncology nurse and cancer patient. I am not giving medical advice, just offering my opinions and experiences. Consult your health care team for medical advice.