It is normal to feel fear, anxiety and panic when cancer is diagnosed. Find out more about the possible symptoms and causes of these feelings.
The diagnosis of cancer is difficult to deal with by anyone. It is normal to feel anxious, dreaded or panic at times. How to handle this feeling depends on:
- The kind of person you are
- How dangerous is your cancer
- The care you have
- How much support, from family and friends, do you have
- Fear and panic
You can feel the fear and concern of what will happen to you. You may be concerned of the reason of why you have a cancer; is it because, chemical radiation, foods, cigarettes or asbestos exposure. Even though, not so many people do not acknowledge that asbestos is one of many causes of cancers. The fact is, asbestos exposure has been linked to lung cancers.
It may also be on your mind about the side effects of treatment or the operation of the treatment. Or you may feel that you are dealing with the cancer well and able to continue.
You may have a far more extreme feeling like a panic attack, which is very different from the feeling of self-concern.
This strong feeling can be scary and you may feel that you are not facing it well. But there is no right or wrong way to hear that you have cancer. Everyone is handling things in our own way, and many things depend on other circumstances of our lives.
If you feel fear, panic or anxiety you may have problems with:
- Lack of appetite
- Get out and see others socially
- Your patience
After some time
If your anxiety becomes a long-term problem, you may continue to feel that something bad will happen. You could also:
- Continue to ask people about your illness and what they think you should do
- I feel very negative
- I feel very upset
- Feel able to deal with changes in your routine
- Physical symptoms
This may be similar to feeling very nervous about exams, job interviews, or speeches.
There are many physical symptoms that you may have. These include:
- Lack of breath, impulsive breathing or dry cough
- Heart palpitations or sweating
- A lump in the throat, dry mouth or difficulty swallowing
- Shake hands, whole body vibrations or swollen sensations in the stomach (like a butterfly)
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Pain and diarrhea
- Thick and aching muscles especially in the neck and shoulders
- Dizziness or light or heavy head or playing in your ears
- Urgent need to urinate
- Red in the face or looks very pale
- Continued anxiety can also affect your sexual intercourse and your life. You can lose interest in sex and have a very low estimate of self-esteem.
Sometimes fear or anxiety becomes so incredible that panic attacks can occur.
You may have the symptoms of physical anxiety described above, but it can be much more powerful. Some people also feel as if they were dead or crazy.
If panic attacks often occur, they can seriously affect the quality of life. Ask for medical help and tell your doctor or nurse how you feel.
Some people describe them as very annoying or terrible.
What causes fear, anxiety and panic?
All of these symptoms are very real and you may be worried that cancer is causing them. This may be with some symptoms. But stress and anxiety are also probable causes.
Fight or flight response
When the body deals with something stressful or frightening, it releases adrenaline (also called epinephrine) that prepares the body for running from or fighting stress. This is known as a fight or a flight response. Which makes you jump off the road to avoid being hit by a car that has appeared from nowhere.
Adrenaline makes yours increase body function, heart beat faster and muscles to contract. It also causes intestinal motility to die.
But a natural response that should protect you could be a problem. The more you worry, the more likely the fight and escape response and the increased symptoms increase. It can be a vicious circle and you can feel like you have no control over your situation.
Concerns about your care, your pain, and your recovery
You can worry if the treatment will be successful, or it may be very unpleasant.
There is ongoing research to improve cancer care. Treatment has improved considerably, and continues to improve. There are studies on how to reduce the side effects of the treatment and how to control it. This makes today’s treatment easier to overcome than it had been.
Get friends or relatives with you while visiting a doctor or nurse. They can help you ask questions about your treatment.
Questions and Second opinion
Some people like to have a second opinion. Your doctor will not object to you and may be able to help you organize it.
You may have many questions. It is important to ask, even if you think you have requested it more than once. Trust me, the doctor won’t mind.
People often worry about pain if they have cancer or that the pain will be more than they can experience.
Many cancer patients have no pain. For those who do, many modern medicine and other types of treatments can successfully relieve or control it.
The first thing most people ask for is cancer is whether they will die.
Many cancer patients are cured and some live for many years. Even when cancer cannot be cured, treatment can help overcome the pain or discomfort or slow the growth of cancer.
It’s usually not possible for doctors to say with certainty that cancer has been treated. One cannot say that he will never come back again. Living with this uncertainty is one of the most difficult things to get cancer.
This uncertainty can be helped by:
- Talk to your specialist or nurse or consultant
- Find out how serious your disease is
Talk to your family and friends abouts your feelings