Fear that cancer will return is a near-universal fear of patients whose cancer is in remission. This fear can interfere with getting good care and/or living fully. For Healthy Survivors striving to calm this fear, a 6-minute video may help.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Amy Grose, an experienced social worker, offers realistic, comforting insights and advice. She clarifies
- What is fear of recurrence?
- What are common triggers?
- When do I need to pay attention to it?
- Other than the patient, who does this fear affect?
- What is the so-called "tyranny of silence"?
- Why discuss this fear openly?
- What is the role of counseling?
- How does this fear change over time?
- What can I do to help calm this fear?
To give you a taste of this healing conversation, I'll paraphrase a metaphor one of Amy Grose's patients used to describe how the fear of recurrence changed over time. The patient described her life as a house where, in the beginning, her fear of recurrence took over every single room. Over time, the fear took less and less space, so she now feels her fear of recurrence lives in a small back room. It comes out under specific circumstances, such as right before check-ups or if a worrisome symptom develops. "It's never gone, but it doesn't have to intrude as much in her life."