How to handle cancer recurrence?

How does one cope with return of cancer?

Read our article on Grief to start with this article under the heading of Urofort Cancer Care Psychological Support Services.

You have gone through your initial treatment; you know it is difficult but you have handled it well. You can handle it again for sure. You just need to be mentally strong.

You are shocked, fearful & full of anger. You are uncertain. You need to get out of it as fast as possible & that is only possible if you control your emotions & start acting in a calm manner & be ready to face the next set of challenges.

A cancer recurrence is defined as the cancer coming back after some period of time has elapsed after first successful treatment.


Where does cancer recur?

Cancer recurrence can manifest in three ways –

• Local recurrence– recurrence in the same place.It hasn’t spread to other parts of the body.

• Regional recurrence– recurrencein the draining lymph nodes.

• Distant recurrence– cancer that has spread (metastasized)


Diagnosis of cancer recurrence

The follow up protocol that has been provided to you istypically meant to detect recurrences at the earliest possible stage because a local recurrence may still be amenable to cure.


What if cancer recurrences are widespread?

Medical science is a continuously evolving field. Even if a cure may not be possible at times, treatments are available to slow down the spread of cancer. Supportive treatments are available to relieve the pain & improve the quality of life.


What treatment should one choose?

For this you will need to have a detailed counseling session with Dr Manav Suryavanshi.Such a decision is based on many factors. It also depends on what are your expectations, what do you hope to accomplish& what are the side effects you are willing to endure.We will also need to assess what was the first treatment that you underwent & what was the response at that time.

You may consider joining a clinical trial, where you may have access to the latest or experimental medications. Talk to Dr Manav Suryavanshi about clinical trials that are available to you.


Psychological aspects to coping with a cancer recurrence

A cancer recurrence brings back emotional turmoil & this time maybe at a bigger scale.

You have dealt with tem before but they are not easier to deal again. But then do we have a choice. It always a good idea to FACE IT!Common emotions include:

• Distress – You moved on in life after the first turmoil & the cancer comes back again. It’s bound to cause distress.

• Self-doubt – Doubts do arise as to why did one undergo the entire ordeal of treatment. Don’t look back. You made a choice that was right at that point in time. Focus on the present moment & act with maturity. You may still have reasonable choices available. Move forward.

• Anger – You may feel why you put up with the side effects of the treatment at all if the cancer was to recur anyway.Life is a fight every moment. You made the right decision. Don’t look back. Seek a second opinion. It will help you better understand the entire perspective.

• Fatigue – You may feel mentally exhausted. You may be dreading that you have cancer recurrence but you’ve done it before. You did it first time even though you doubted yourself back then.You can still deal with it .The coping mechanisms used last time will help even now.You have to find strength in your family, friends & support groups.

• Knowledge -You have more knowledge now. This should help you be less anxious. You are not facing it for the first time. You have successfully faced it once before. You know now, such as what treatment involves and what side effects to expect.

• Built in relationships – You are familiar with the hospital or clinic & your Doctor. This can make you feel somewhat more comfortable.

• You’ve been there, seen all & done this before. You have dealt with cancer before; you know what’s best for you now. Give yourself time to think, keep calm & make the decisions that best suit you to plan ahead.

Feel more in control when making decisions about your treatment. Express your feelings to your Doctor. The conversation can give you better understanding in decision making.

Ask your Doctor if some Support groups of people dealing with similar situations are available. Ask if any Psychological Counseling Sessions are available. These may help you achieve peace & make wise treatment choices.