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  • Writer's pictureThe After Cancer

Delayed emotions: managing long-term psychological effects of cancer

A cancer survivor in the journey towards emotional healing

Why am I still feeling different after cancer?

Surviving cancer is a huge achievement, but the emotional impact of the experience doesn't necessarily end with treatment. Many cancer survivors find themselves grappling with long-term psychological effects that can persist even after physical recovery. It's important to recognize that the journey towards emotional healing may require time and support.

You're not alone: most common emotions

  1. Anxiety: Fear of recurrence, worries about the future, and uncertainty about health can lead to persistent anxiety. It's normal to feel anxious, but if it becomes overwhelming or affects your daily life, seeking professional help is recommended.

  2. Depression: The emotional toll of cancer can trigger feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities. Depression should not be dismissed, as it can have a significant impact on overall well-being.

  3. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Some cancer survivors experience symptoms similar to PTSD, including intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, and heightened anxiety related to their cancer experience. Seeking therapy or counseling can be beneficial in managing these symptoms.

Dealing with long-term side effects of cancer

  1. Seek support: Reach out to friends, family, or support groups to share your feelings and experiences. Connecting with others who have gone through similar journeys can provide validation, understanding, and a sense of community.

  2. Therapy and counseling: Professional therapy can be very helpful in addressing and managing long-term psychological effects. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based therapies, and support groups specifically tailored for cancer survivors can offer effective strategies for coping and healing.

  3. Self-care: Prioritize self-care activities that promote overall well-being. Engage in regular exercise, practice relaxation techniques, and incorporate activities that bring joy and a sense of fulfillment into your daily routine.

  4. Educate yourself: Learn about the psychological effects of cancer and how they can manifest. Understanding that what you're experiencing is a common response can help normalize your feelings and reduce self-judgment.

  5. Communicate with healthcare providers: Maintain open communication with your healthcare team about your emotional well-being. They can provide guidance, recommend resources, or refer you to mental health professionals who specialize in working with cancer survivors.

The emotional aftermath of cancer can be complex and long-lasting, and acknowledging and addressing the psychological effects is crucial for long-term well-being. By seeking support, engaging in therapy or counseling, practicing self-care, and staying informed, cancer survivors can navigate the path towards emotional healing and find the strength to embrace life beyond cancer. Remember, you are not alone, and there are resources available to help you manage and overcome these delayed emotions.


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