Not long ago, I was reading “Dealing with fear of cancer recurrence,” a blog post by Susan Krigel, PhD. In her post, she mentions that low-to-moderate fear of recurrence is not only realistic, but also potentially helpful. A cancer survivor with low-level fear, for example, can be motivated to follow doctor’s recommendations. Some survivors, however, have such high levels of fear that they can’t really live their lives because of extreme anxiety.
Dr. Krigel includes recommendations to manage fear of recurrence so that the fear is productive rather than destructive. Her advice is helpful, and I try to follow it every day. Sometimes I feel a bit down, though, and the most difficult recommendation for me is #8, “learn to live with uncertainty.” This is ironic for me, since I’ve always thought of myself as adaptable.
I’ve never been a person with a five-year plan. When I travel, I have my plane ticket and a basic plan of places and things I most want to see, but I don’t have a set itinerary. And I often like surprises. I used to embrace change. But my cancer diagnosis and treatment not only changed my life but changed me. A little certainty about my future health might be nice, but apparently isn’t part of my journey. Forget about a five-year plan; I’m not even sure about a one-year plan! I can be sure of today, though, and that is how I try to live my life as a cancer survivor. One day at a time, doing activities I enjoy, spending time with loved ones, and refusing to allow uncertainty to grow into self-destructive fear.