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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


Fear of recurrence is the fear that your cancer will return. 
Fear of recurrence is normal, especially right after treatment ends or when physical symptoms appear - even those of a cold. Fear of recurrence generally lessens over time, but seldom goes away entirely. Even many years after treatment, fear of recurrence may still be in the back of your mind.

Here are some ideas that have helped others deal with fear and to feel more hopeful. Each of these subjects is discussed in the sections which make up the rest of this document.


  • If fear impacts sleep, appetitie or daily life, consider contacting a health care professional. In addition to a local oncology social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist, social workers at the following two nonprofits can talk with you about your fears of cancer recurrence for free.
    • Cancer Care: Tel.: 800.813.4673 (M-Th 9AM to 8PM, Fri 9AM to 5PM, ET)]
    • AMC Cancer Information and Counseling Line. Tel.: 800.525.3777 (M-F, 9AM to 5PM, MT)
    • You can also find an oncology social worker with whom to talk at your local cancer center or through The Association of Oncology Social Work:  offsite offsite link., Tel: 215.599.6903. 
  • Fear of recurrence is sometimes called the Damocles Syndrome.

To Learn More

Be And Stay Informed

Learn about your cancer and what you can do if it does return.

  • Knowledge can give you a greater sense of control. 
  • Some studies even suggest that people who are well informed about their illness and treatment are more likely to follow their treatment plans and recover from cancer more quickly than those who are not.

Keep up-to-date about improvements in treatment.

  • Get on the e-mail lists from the non-profit organizations that focus on your health condition. If you don't have access to the internet, ask a family member or friend to receive the e-mails for you and to keep you posted.
  • Each time you see your doctor, ask about new treatments and new studies about existing treatments. Ask about cutting edge treatments being studied in clinical trials that relate to your particular situation and look promising. To learn about clinical trials, see "To Learn More." 
  • If you are not already a member, consider joining a support group of people with your condition. Support groups are an major source of information. A support group doesn't have to be in person. It can be online or on the telephone. For information about support groups, including how to find one that works for you, click here.

NOTE: There can be a fine line between staying informed and being obsessed. If you think you are becoming obsessed, back off looking for information for a while. Consider setting an alert on your calendar, say for every three months, to check to see if there are updates.

Express Feelings Of Fear, Anger, or Sadness

Being open and dealing with their emotions helps many people feel less worried. People have found that then they express strong feeling like anger or sadness, they are more able to let go of those feelings.

Some people sort out their feelings by talking with friends or family, other cancer survivors, or a counselor. Thinking and talking about your feelings can be hard, but worth it.

  • Consider looking for a cancer buddy.To learn more, click here
  • Think about joining a support group. Support groups meet in person, on the telephone and even on line. In addition to expressing your feelings, you're likely to learn important practical tips. For more information about support groups, click here.

Of course, if you prefer not to discuss your cancer with others, you should feel free not to. You can still sort out your feelings by thinking about them or writing them down on paper or expressing them in an artistic endeavor such as painting, ceramics or even wood working.

Observe Your Thoughts Without Judging Them

Recognize that a thought of fear of recurrence for what it is: a thought, not a reality.

Practice distracting yourself with another subject or letting them go. Thoughts can go as quickly as they come if we see them for what they are and then change the subject.

When fear of recurrence appears, see this thought called "fear" for what it is. Then let it go by moving on to a more positive thought. This is easier to say than to do, but it gets easier with practice and time.

Work Toward Having A Positive Attitude

A positive attitude can help you feel better about life now. Sometimes this means looking for what is good even in a bad time or trying to be hopeful instead of thinking the worst.  

To learn how to work toward a positive attitude, click here.  

Please keep in mind that even the most optimistic person is not likely to be able to keep a positive attitude all the time.

Also, do not buy into what Jimmy Holland calls the "tyranny of a positive attitude." An emphasis on keeping a positive attitude can lead people to blame themselves for their illness, or for not getting better. Cancer and its course have other causes.

Don't blame yourself for your cancer. Cancer can happen to anyone.

Come To Terms With Other Fears

Ronnie Kaye, a psychotherapist who specializes in helping people with a life-threatening condition, suggests that dealing with each of the following subjects can help a person cope with the fear of recurrence because each of them contribute to this fear:

  • Fear of death
  • Fear of dying
  • Mortality
  • Vulnerability questions about the purpose of life. 

If fear becomes overwhelming or keeps you from your daily activities or work, consider consulting a mental health professional. For the different types of professionals, click here. For information about choosing a mental health professional, click here.

One way to deal with fear is to create a "worry box." Create or set aside a box with a lid on it. Each morning, write your fears or worries on a piece of paper. Put the paper into the worry box and close the lid. If fear or worry strikes during the day, repeat the process.

Talk With People In A Similiar Situation

Your local nonprofit organization that deals with your health condition can likely introduce you to a cancer buddy - another person in a situation similar to yours.

Trained volunteers who have experienced a similar cancer are also available to help via the Cancer Hope Network: offsite link, Tel.: 877.467.3638

Consider joining a support group. Groups are available in person, on the telephone and even on line. (In addion to support, you're likely to learn valuable practical tips.)

To Learn More

More Information

Support Groups

Find Ways To Help Yourself Relax

For example, try guided Imagery 

  • Guided imagery is like directed daydreaming. It basically involves imagining a pleasant experience that you've had, for example a walk on a beach or watching a sunset.
  • Guided imagery ideally uses all the senses: vision, smell, taste, touch and hearing. Pleasant experiences are totally personal. So is the image that works for any particular person. The more senses involved in recalling the experience, the better.
  • The basis of guided imagery is that the body doesn't discriminate between images and experiences that are recalled, and those that are experienced in real time. Pleasant experiences result in relaxation and the lessening or elimination of stress and other tension.
  • Guided imagery can be practiced individually, in a group or with a guide.
  • For information about guided imagery, click here

Relaxation CDs are available in most bookstores. Consider listening to a CD before buying it. Finding a guided imagery that helps you is as individual as the imagery itself. 

For additional ideas, see the articles in To Learn More.

Be As Active As You Can

Getting out of the house and doing something worthwhile can help you focus on other things besides cancer and the worries it brings.

Consider volunteering. If you volunteer for a nonprofit that deals with your disease, you may get the inside track on new information - as well as more individualized help if your cancer does recur. 

Control What You Can

Some people say that putting their lives in order makes them feel less fearful.

Being involved in your health care, keeping your appointments, and making changes in your lifestyle are among the things you can control.

You can also control the food you eat, the drinks you drink, exercise and rest/sleep -- all of which can be considered to be part of a medical regimen you can do on your own to make your body its disease fighting best to help fight your disease and/or prevent a recurrence.

Even setting a daily schedule can give you more power.

Last, but not least, while no one can control every thought, some people say they've resolved not to dwell on the fearful ones. With practice, it gets easier.

Adopt A Cancer Prevention Lifestyle

Use fear as motivation to do everything you can to help heal.

  • Eat nutritiously (It helps to think of each bite as an investment in your health). Your doctor may have advice concerning specific foods to eat or avoid.
  • Exercise regularly (even if only mildly). 
  • Get rest. 
  • Avoid unnecessary stress. 

For information about a cancer prevention lifestyle, click here.


To Learn More

Prepare Financially. Get Health Insurance If You Don't Have it.

Do what you can to get your financial affairs in order so you can cope most effectively if your cancer does recur or in case something else happens. Tjo learn about financial planning, click here.  Include in your financial plans an Emergency+Fund.

Do what you can to increase income and save more money. If that means changing jobs, your health history does not prevent you from changing. (For information about seeking work after a diagnosis, click here. For tips about increasing income, click here.)

Look at your investments to see if :

  • You can start selling difficult to sell investments.
  • You can increase the value of your investments while at the same time protecting the downside. 
  • If you have a shortened life expectancy, investments should be more conservative than for an average person of your age.

Look at your expenses to see what you can decrease or eliminate entirely.

If finances are not your strength, consider speaking with a financial planner - particularly one who has experience with people who have a history of cancer or other life changing condition.