Guest Blog | Cancer Fear!!!
We are super grateful to Kieran Hewitt aka cancerhusbandsblog for this week's guest blog. Kieran describes himself as "The ‘other half’ along for the rollercoaster that is cancer and now widowhood!! ". Kieran's blog offers a real insight into how it feels to watch your partner go through and sadly die from cancer. If you don't already follow Kieran, do check out the rest of his blog here.
One thing that all cancer patients and their partners will feel during their diagnosis, treatment and afterwards is ‘Fear’, it can’t be hidden from and you will need to learn how to deal with it.
Fear is the overriding feeling you will have in the run up to diagnosis, much of that is fear of the unknown, fear of the word cancer, fear of hospitals, fear of death.
Once through that there may be fear of the physical effects of treatment, operations etc.
After treatment you have the fear of scans, fear of recurrence, these things will stay with you for a long time.
So how do you deal with them?
Firstly fear of hospitals, this will be dealt with by basically spending much of your life at them, in the under three years since Jo (my wife) was diagnosed originally we have had over 100 appointments You need to think of hospital instead of being a place of sickness and death but to a place of healing, where you defeat the illness, they are really positive places when you look at them in that way.
Fear of the word cancer also will be dealt with by familiarity, it will become part of your daily conversation. Also you will see and find people talking about it everywhere, especially on social media and in the press, it’s not a word we need to whisper anymore we can talk openly and frankly about it and its impact on our lives.
Fear of death, is something we all have, but you will see lots of people surviving longer and living better with cancer than they did before. More people are surviving all the time, so you balance the fear with hope and medical science.
Fear of the physical impact is also real and these days treatments are being designed to be easier on the patient but still pack the punch needed to kill the cancer. If you are worried about a particular treatment talk to your nurses and oncologists, I am sure they will reduce your fear through better understanding and also there are various treatments available to reduce the effects of chemotherapy etc, such as anti sickness medication.
'Scanxiety' is a real thing and when you have completed treatment every scan will bring heightened levels of fear. You may also have lost trust in your body and also fear that every ache or pain is the return of cancer.
These things will diminish over time and you really must try to continue with life as much as normal. Jo has always said to me that she didn’t spend the first 40 years of her life fearing that she would get cancer, so she wasn’t going to spend the next years fearing that it would return.
All these fears can be debilitating but there is help out there, all the big charities offer support groups and helplines to talk to. Cancer units often offer counselling and help, often provided by people who have already been through what you are going through.
There is support as well in social media groups like Twitter and blogs where you can get immediate help and advice from others in the same predicament.
So remember you're not on your own and whatever you are fearing there are other people who have felt the same, have walked the path you are walking, so seek support from friends, family, the Cancer Community and don’t let the fear absorb you.
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