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Emotional recovery after cancer treatment

Mayo Clinic Health System

April 26, 2022

Mariah Koenen

Emotional recovery after cancer treatment

From the moment you are diagnosed with cancer, your life is forever changed. It can affect the way you feel, think and act. You could feel many emotions including shock, guilt, anger, fear, sadness and depression. These emotions are expected, and your health care team is ready to support you.

During diagnosis and treatment

Every person is unique, and the way emotions are processed from the time of cancer diagnosis to treatment will vary. You may feel shock when you hear that you have cancer. Some people go into overdrive, gathering details, and the reality of the diagnosis doesn't sink in right away. Other people may feel anxious, angry or sad, or grieve a change in the direction of their lives.

It is common to feel a mix of emotions. Your health care team understands that this may lead to difficulty retaining the information you receive. They will encourage you to bring a support person to your appointments for an extra set of ears.

During this time, your health care team will answer your questions, provide resources and develop a treatment plan tailored to you. They will support you emotionally every step of the way.

Recovery and beyond

Your emotional state may shift after you complete the active treatment phase, such as completion of surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. You'll likely be eager to return to a more normal life, but you also may feel anxious about leaving the safety net of frequent contact with your health care team. You may ask "Now what?"

At this time, you may be offered the opportunity for a cancer survivorship care plan visit. During this visit, you will receive a summary of your cancer journey, and an outline of your diagnosis, treatments received, expected side effects, resources ava