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Exercise – Coping with Cancer-Related Fears

Grab a pen and paper or if you have a PC, click on the link to print or download the following exercise:  

 

When you’re diagnosed with cancer, it’s completely normal to fear:

- that your cancer treatments won’t or haven’t worked

- that your cancer will return

- or that you will pass away and leave your loved ones behind

 

There are things that can aggravate fear, such as stress, isolation, or other illnesses that you may have. 

 

There are also things that can trigger fear, like new physical symptoms that show up and make you worry that your cancer has returned even years after you've finished treatment.

This exercise is meant to help you shift your focus and reframe your thinking when these fearful thoughts arise. 

 

STEP 1

Write down any fears you have right now or that have come to mind recently.

For example,

I am fearful that my cancer will return.

I am fearful that my treatments won’t work.

I am fearful of losing my hair.

I am fearful of losing my job.

 

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STEP 2

 

Ask yourself the following questions about the fears you just wrote down:

Is this fear helpful or harmful? 

 

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Is this fear based on facts or fears? 

 

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Which emotions typically follow these fears when they come up?  Depression?  Stress?  Anxiety?  Write them down.

 

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STEP 3

 

For each of the fearful thoughts you wrote down in STEP 1, write down a thought out, rational response that you will tell yourself each time that fear comes into your mind.

 

For example:

If my fearful thoughts are ‘my cancer treatments won’t work’ and ‘my cancer will return.’ 

My rational response will be:

 

I know that this is out of my control and it’s not fair that I have to deal with this, but instead of worrying about it, which I know isn’t healthy for me, I’m going to choose to accept the fact that I can’t control it in this moment, and I’m going to do my best to enjoy the present moment, here and now. 

 

Things I can control, are my diet and how much physical activity I’m doing, which I know can help my body to fight cancer so when these fears arise, I’m going to shift my focus to these things I can control.

 

 

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