AFTER CANCER: THINKING ABOUT CANCER. MISSING TREATMENT

Is There Something Wrong with Me If I Don’t Think about My Cancer?

As long as you are responsible about your posttreatment health care and follow-ups, it is great if you do not think about your cancer. If your cancer required relatively brief, easily tolerated therapy, if your prognosis is good, and if your cancer experience did not change your outlook on life, then it would be expected and healthy for you to forget about your cancer most of the time.

If you do not think about your cancer, because when you do you experience uncomfortable, even intolerable feelings, then you are repressing, not forgetting, memories of your cancer experience. It is best if your cancer history and cancer experience become integrated parts of your past.

What If I Miss Going for Treatment?

Inconvenient and uncomfortable as treatment may have been, it had its good sides:

• You had the comfort of knowing that you were doing something active to treat your cancer.

• You were the recipient of undivided attention.

• People were gentle and sympathetic toward you.

• You felt like everyone else at the doctor’s office; outside the medical setting you may feel like

the only cancer patient.

What Can I Do if I Miss Being a Patient?

Recognize the sources of your anxiety and allay it through knowledge, hope, and action. Savor the current success of your treatment, no matter how uncertain the future. Relish your liberation from treatments, visits, and tests.

You can replace the missing interactions by making efforts to get together with new people who understand your situation, needs, and emotions. Support groups and professional counseling can fill in some of the gaps during this transition to a new normal life.

If you find yourself wishing you were still a patient and reluctant to resume the interactions and responsibilities of healthy people, it may be helpful to reexamine the life you are reentering-Your illness may have functioned as a shield against unpleasant aspects of your everyday existence as a healthy person. Take stock of your values, priorities, and goals. Think about how your personal and professional pursuits do and do not satisfy you.

It is normal to miss some aspects of being a patient. However, if you wish you were still a patient, that is a signal to make changes in your circumstances or your relationships. This may be the time for you to confront issues that you avoided prior to your illness. Professional help is available if you need support and guidance during this period of readjustment.

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