When facing the unknown, feeling worried or fearful is something everyone experiences. Even though the treatment phase of your lymphoma experience was a big unknown, the time after treatment may feel uncertain too. It is common to worry about your lymphoma coming back and these worries and fears may impact your sleep and eating patterns, decrease your ability to concentrate, cause temporary withdrawal from social activities, disrupt your usual routines, and increase your irritability or impatience.
One common and specific fear is the fear of recurrence.
The symptoms associated with worry and fear are usually related to specific issues and these symptoms increase and decrease as issues arise. They are usually brief and they do not stop your ability to look forward to the future or to make necessary decisions. Very often, there are specific events that trigger these emotions. These include anniversary dates, follow-up visits, and symptoms similar to those that led to your initial diagnosis.
Some people feel that when their treatment is over, they should try to put it all behind them. The reality is treatment, is a phase of your experience, not the end of it. You have been through a lot and the period after treatment is often the first time you are able to process it all. Sometimes people are working so hard to rally courage and resilience to get them through their treatment phase, that the post-treatment time is the first time they allow themselves to face their fears and anxieties. It is important to know that this is not uncommon and that your experience continues throughout the post-treatment phase. It is also normal for some people to feel like they want to forget about their recent experience with treatment. For some people, this can be a way to cope with the initial period when treatment has ended. If you feel this way, it is important to remember that it is OK to take a bit of time to distance yourself from what you have been through, as long as you are not avoiding facing your emotions.
Your friends and family may feel shut out if you decide not to include them – let them in and let anyone else in who you feel may help you with your situation. Talking to your healthcare professional, someone you trust, and other patients in a support group (online or in person) can help you gauge at how well you are coping. Many people recommend having at least one person you can be open with and who can provide you with honest feedback.
When you do experience worry and fear, making sure you get accurate information, learning about useful resources, and knowing where to get support can help you manage and navigate your concerns.
Whatever you decide, make sure you reach out to get the help you need.