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7 Tips for Coping with The Fear of Cancer

Posted by Arona Martin on
7 Tips for Coping with The Fear of Cancer

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”  - Gilda Radner


Earlier this year, I was talking with my dear friend who was recently diagnosed with cancer and one of her biggest fears was not knowing what would happen next. Although I haven’t had cancer, I’ve had family members who’ve had it and other illnesses and truthfully other life situations where we didn’t know what would happen next.

I remember telling my friend what I tell many of my coaching clients when they’re struggling with the unknown. There are no guarantees in any of our lives. Anything can change for the better (or obviously otherwise) in a moment. But, there is a perception that we somehow have control over our lives when we’re perfectly healthy or employed or married. As we all know, that is not the case.

So, if you’re fighting cancer or supporting someone who has cancer and experiencing many of the unknowns in anticipation of treatment, surgery, or even a scan, I invite you to try one or all of the following approaches to help be with or recover from the fear and stress of not knowing:

  • Focus on the Present Moment
        • A year ago, I was in the hospital after an accident where doctors told me I was fortunate to be alive. My mind would jump to concern if I had created permanent damage to my body. But, I kept asking myself “what is true in this moment?” And, it was that I was alive and getting help.
  • Look for the Blessing
        • While in the hospital, I was experiencing many new and uncomfortable situations in order to heal. There was one machine that initially had a weird, almost irritating sound. But, I accepted the need for it, and I suddenly found the sound meditative and relaxing.
  • Ask People for Support
        • Your loved ones are desperate to be able to do something to help you feel better in a situation where no one feels in control. When I’ve asked for help in my darkest moments, I could see friends and family light up with the opportunity to be of service.
  • Reframe Your Thinking
        • They say fear and excitement stem from the same feeling within, but fear is the expectation of a negative outcome while excitement is the expectation of a positive outcome. So, take advantage of the fact that your current situation is known and choose to focus on the best possible outcome.
  • Empower Yourself
        • During times when I feel I have little control, I make a list of what I actually can control and what I can’t. Then, I rip up the “can’t control” list and get working on the list of things I can do to make a difference in my life even if it’s just a small step toward eating more nutritious food or sleeping more to get healthier.   
  • Write in a Journal
        • Journaling can help clear our minds and make our thoughts and feelings more real and tangible. Although that can sound scary, it can help you process and regulate your emotions so you can actually move forward and feel more in control versus being overwhelmed with fear and anxiety.
        • Because Love Note: We actually have the perfect journal for this! You can buy it, here. 
  • Create a List of Feel Good Activities
      • Think of activities or rituals that make you feel good - - being in nature, drinking a favorite cup of tea, listening to uplifting music. Write these activities or items on separate pieces of paper and put them in a jar. Whenever you need to shift from a scary/anxious moment, pick one of these activities to enjoy. You can create a new association with what would normally be a painful moment.

    Although there is no assurance of what will happen in life next, hopefully some of these suggestions can leave you with a more relaxed state of mind and provide some comfort throughout your journey.


    About the Author: Rosie Guagliardo, the founder of InnerBrilliance Coaching, LLC, has loved being a life and career coach for over 12 years.  Previously, she was in marketing and advertising for 18 years working closely with companies such as McDonald’s, Anheuser-Busch, and Unilever. Within her coaching practice, she works with high-achieving people to help them discover an easier way of living…where they can experience results for their life and career with more joy daily.  She combines her Northwestern psychology degree along with her coaching education and advertising experience to help her clients create the life results they desire. Visit to learn more.

















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