For all of us, accepting that we cannot control every aspect of our lives can be really difficult. After cancer, feelings of anxiety and fear can escalate. The worries we used to hold at bay grow louder and can threaten to dominate our existence. To keep the worry in its place you have to get to know it better. When do you worry most? What sets off those little voices? Is it a particular type of conversation? Is it surfing the net on “cervical cancer”? Is it just before a check-up? Or a routine visit to the GP?

Get to know when worry preys on your mind and create strategies to contain it. Here are some ideas.

Relaxation, Meditation, Yoga

You might not have had a go at any of these practices before but it is worth considering them as they can help you to relax both your mind and body.

Relaxation or meditation encourages your mind and body to enter into a state of calm or rest. This can give you a sense of relief from stress and can help you to feel more able to take on life's challenges. Getting into a daily routine with this may help train you to focus on your breathing and give your overactive mind a rest.

Yoga or pilates will also help to strengthen your body as well as focussing your mind on your breathing rather than your worries. Yoga is an ancient practice going back thousands of years and is believed by its practitioners to unite mind, body and spirit.

Both yoga and pilates help to build 'core stability'. Core stability refers to the muscles around your pelvis (including your pelvic floor muscles), back and abdomen. Having strong muscles in these areas help to stabilise the body during movement and because your pelvic floor muscles help with urinary continence having a strong pelvic floor can help with some bladder problems.

Your local cancer support centre might have exercise and relaxation classes. The teachers at these centres will be sensitive to your needs if you are recently recovering from treatment. If you decide to go to classes at a yoga centre or leisure club have a quiet word with the teacher and let them know if you are still recovering from the effects of surgery or treatment.

All cancer centres will have an information and/or a support area for patients so you can find out what is available locally. See our links page for national organisations offering services.

Keep a Busy Mind

An engaged mind is less likely to wander off into fears and ‘what ifs’. So find things to do that you can concentrate on. For some women, going back to work fulfils this purpose.

Alternatively, supporting others with cancer has been shown by research to have a positive impact [1]. It raises self-esteem and can give you a sense of meaning, when life might otherwise seem quite arbitrary.

It may take a while for you to be ready to support others, but you could help us raise awareness of cervical cancer and the support services of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust. Read about different ways you can get involved

Talking to Others who have been There

There is nothing like talking to another woman who has a shared experience and has found her way of coping with life after cervical cancer. You can meet other women through our Let's Meet days or through our network of local support groups. You may also want to visit our online forum. Our forum provides a safe space to connect with other women who understand what you’re going through.

Getting Emotional Support

Cancer can have a huge impact on emotional wellbeing and it is important to acknowledge this [2] [3]. A fear of your cancer coming back can be consuming and it can leave you feeling scared and overly focussed on your health, on every ache and pain. For some women going to a counsellor or psychologist to talk through what they are feeling can be helpful to adjust to everyday life again. Whether it’s a space to speak about your fears of recurrence or coming to terms with the changes cervical cancer has brought to your life seeing a professional who specialises in supporting people through cancer can help.

Ask your Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) if it is possible to be refered to a Psycho-oncology team (not all hospitals have these). You may be offered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which will help you manage difficult thoughts and feelings or Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy which will again help you manage your anxieties. Both techniques can support you emotionally and mentally.

You might also find that focussing on other areas of your life, such as hobbies, pastimes or making time to do things that you feel nourish and support you, can really help you to work towards finding a 'new normal'. Give yourself time to adjust to life and get the support you need. If you need support, find out about the different services that we offer.

References

  1. Pistrang N, et al,. 2012. Telephone peer support for women with gynaecological cancer: benefits and challenges for supporters. Psycho-Oncology 22(4), 886-94.
  2. Johnson R.L, et al,. 2010. Distress in women with gynecologic cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 19 (6), 665-668.
  3. Macmillan Cancer Support website: The emotional effects of cancer http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Livingwithandaftercancer/Emotionaleffects/Emotionaleffects.aspx. Accessed 28.07.13

 


"Worried About it Coming Back?." Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust. N.p., 19 Aug. 2013. Web. 02 Mar. 2015.