May 22, 2024

Navigating Mental Health Post-Cancer Treatment: A Guide

Meredith Hamilton, LCSW

Survivorship involves more than just going to medical follow-ups and ringing a bell. It's also about your inner journey—your thoughts, feelings, and questions that come up as you learn to navigate life after diagnosis. Many survivors experience feelings of sadness, doubt, or worry caused by physical changes or around what may happen in the future. These feelings are completely normal, and thankfully you don't have to face them alone. Friends, family, fellow survivors, and professionals can help you through the ups and downs. At OncoveryCare, we offer the physical and mental health support you need as you continue your survivorship journey. 

Surviving a major health event or trauma such as cancer, can trigger a mix of emotions. Feelings of relief, gratitude, and joy might be present, but so can anxiety, depression, and fear of recurrence. It's important to recognize that these feelings are valid and part of the survivorship journey. In light of this, we’ve put together a list of commonly experienced challenges survivors experience, and steps to help you navigate the road ahead.

Common Emotional Challenges

Anxiety and Fear of Recurrence: It's natural to worry about the possibility of a health issue returning. This fear can sometimes be overwhelming, affecting daily life and mental peace.

Depression: The end of a treatment phase can bring a sense of emptiness or loss of purpose. The rigorous routine that once dictated your life suddenly changes, leading to feelings of depression.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Traumatic experiences, including severe illnesses or accidents, can lead to PTSD. Flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety are common symptoms that need addressing.

Identity and Purpose Issues: Many survivors struggle with their identity post-recovery. The question of "What's next?" can be daunting, as the illness or event may have significantly shaped their lives.

Strategies for Mental Well-Being

Seek Professional Help: Consulting with a mental health professional is a critical step. Therapists, counselors, and psychiatrists can provide coping strategies and treatment for issues like anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

Join Support Groups: Connecting with others who have similar experiences can be incredibly validating and comforting. Support groups offer a sense of community and shared understanding.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Practices such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, and deep-breathing exercises can significantly reduce stress and anxiety, promoting overall mental well-being.

Stay Physically Active: Regular exercise is a powerful tool for improving mood and reducing anxiety. It also contributes to better sleep and overall physical health.

Set Realistic Goals: Setting and achieving small, realistic goals can provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment, helping to combat feelings of depression and aimlessness.

Building a Supportive Environment: Your environment plays a crucial role in your mental health. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family, and don't hesitate to communicate your needs. Let them know how they can assist you, whether it's through offering a listening ear, providing company, or helping with daily tasks.


At OncoveryCare, we understand that survivorship is a complex journey with unique challenges, including new mental health challenges. Prioritizing your mental health is as important as maintaining your physical health. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Embrace this new chapter with an open heart and mind, and lean on the resources and community that OncoveryCare offers. Together, we can navigate the path to holistic well-being.

Remember, you are not alone, and your mental health matters.


National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS). (2024). Defining Cancer Survivorship.

The term cancer survivorship is no longer defined by how many years have passed since your diagnosis. In fact, cancer survivorship is now defined as the ‘act of surviving’ (NCCS, 2024). From diagnosis, through treatment, post-treatment and onward, survivorship includes all phases of disease navigation, and empowers the survivor and the co-survivors in their support system, to truly thrive. 

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