Don't Let Fear of Cancer Recurrence Destroy Your Joy

Cancer Recurrence Fear

Henry Ford Allegiance Health oncology patient navigator Sharon Petri shares the advice she gives to her patients who are concerned about cancer recurrence.

When you have experienced cancer, it is normal to worry it may come back. Such fears are absolutely reasonable, considering all you have been through. While happy and relieved that treatment is finally over, you may also feel a little lost. You were used to seeing your care team frequently and feeling their support, and now it might feel like you’re on your own.

Remember that you can still call your care team about things that concern you. And, keeping an ongoing list of questions will also help you make the most of your regular follow-up visits.

Now that you’ve done everything you can to keep your cancer from coming back, your focus may shift to managing fears that it could recur. Worry and anxiousness can affect your joy in living, making it even more important to take good care of yourself emotionally.

Tips for your emotional well-being

  • Talk with your doctor. Knowing your follow-up plan can provide a sense of security and make you feel more in control.
  • Learn more. The more you know about your specific type of cancer, how likely it is to come back and what symptoms to watch for, the less you’ll worry that every ache and pain is a sign that it’s coming back.
  • Don’t bury your fears. Understand that they are normal and part of your recovery. Be kind to yourself and spend time on the things you enjoy.
  • Don’t keep it all inside. Talking to the people closest to you or attending a support group can help you feel less alone and remind you that what you are feeling is normal.
  • Prepare for triggers. Do you feel extra anxious before a check-up, near the anniversary of your diagnosis or before another activity that reminds you of your cancer? Counteract your dread with enjoyable, relaxing activities in the days leading up to the trigger event.
  • Reduce stress. Find enjoyable ways to relax and regenerate. Try yoga, swimming, meditation or writing in a journal.
  • Be active, eat well and get enough sleep. Choosing healthy habits not only improves your strength and well-being, but it also empowers you to feel well and be well.

Many people find comfort and strength by sharing their feelings with others who have experienced cancer and understand its challenges. Henry Ford Allegiance Health’s Cancer Survivorship Support Group is ready to welcome you at any time. For more information, contact Jill Humphries, LMSW, at (517) 205-1575.

If you find you need more help coping with your feelings, consider counseling. An experienced professional can help you learn how to manage your fears.

If this blog post was helpful to you, we invite you to subscribe to our free wellness blog series to view patient stories and videos, or you can read more information about our Cancer Care services.

Sharon Petri is a registered nurse, specializing as a patient navigator since 2004. She is certified in Breast Patient Navigation and experienced in breast health and breast disease. Sharon enjoys helping patients at Henry Ford Allegiance Health get the care they need while supporting them and their families every step of the way.


Have you found an effective way to cope with the fear of recurrence? Please share it with others in Comments.

There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer. But you may help lower your risk by maintaining a healthy body weight, limiting how much alcohol you drink and getting regular exercise.