The C word conjures up all sorts of thoughts, but undoubtedly the most prominent one is the very real fear that this disease has the power to end your life. Even saying the word ‘cancer’ out loud can cause you to gag and stutter and it puts the fear of death into everyone around you as well as yourself.
While we all know that we have an eventual expiry date (or best before), having to face its proximity in the prime of our lives is shocking and heartbreaking. The fear manifests in many forms such as anger, anxiety and depression, and stays to some degree from diagnosis, right through treatment and out the other side.
Unlike the cancer itself, there is no real cure for the fear and it’s the biggest part of any cancer experience. Recognising its many faces and being able to sit with it in the present moment through mindfulness are really the only way forward. Make no mistake, at first cancer is most certainly in the driving seat. As time progresses it becomes a passenger and eventually it takes more of a back seat driving role (and we all know how much we love those!). Cancer will always be part of your life and may forever give unwanted directions from the back seat, but once the shock has passed you will once again be the driving force of your life.
Professional counselling (particularly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy CBT) really works at giving you tools to recognise and deal with your fears so you can start to function in this new normal.