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Our Fears About Cancer Are Just As Real As Your Fears About Spiders

March 2nd, 2018 |
Survivorship, Emotional Support

by Adelecroteau | Survivor: Cervical Cancer    Connect

I often like to focus on one word. I think of that word and the meaning. I try to see what it means to me, what it could mean to others, whether it means something to others at all. Lately, the word that comes up in my mind a lot if ‘fear’.

    Fear is a feeling induced by perceived danger or threat that occurs in certain types of organisms, which causes a change in metabolic and organ functions and ultimately a change in behavior, such as fleeing, hiding, or freezing from perceived traumatic events.

This year marks my five-year cancer anniversary. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. Five years ago, I was made a cancer survivor. Five years ago, my life flashed before my eyes. This year, I am also five years officially cancer-free. So why do I think of fear? Should I not be thinking of the words 'achieve', 'thrive', 'conquer'’, or perhaps 'thankful'? Should I not instead focus on the meaning of those words and how they hold meaning in my life since that fateful day five years ago, when I heard those dreadful words 'you have cancer'? Well my friends, I do. I think of those words often. There is not a day that doesn’t go by that I not think of how thankful I am for my current health. Thankful for the support and strength I have received these past five years. Thankful for the distance between where I was back then to where I am now. I conquered the ultimate dragon. I thrive. I am alive. I love life. I laugh, a lot, I am loved and I love back, I am happy, healthy. I am grateful for each breath I take, grateful for each morning I wake up, am able to get myself going, am able to squeeze my children and husband.

But that doesn't mean I don't also still think about the fears. Whether it is addressed toward me or to my fellow cancer survivors, I am tired of hearing people argue with us to 'just stop thinking of the words 'cancer' and move on’. Or ever better, those who say ‘you are healthy now so get over it’. 'Stop thinking of cancer and you won’t be scared of it anymore'.

Really? If you are afraid of spiders, and I told you to ‘get over it, it's just a bug’, or ‘stop thinking of them and you won’t be scared of it anymore’. Your response back to me would most likely be that you can’t really explain your fear but that you can’t make it go away. BOOM, it’s just like that for us cancer survivors.

With all that in mind, I challenge you all to think of another word and focus on its meaning and what it could mean to others. This word is 'acceptance'.

Acceptance in human psychology is a person's assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it or protest it.

Acceptance, no matter what it is, needs to be part of our daily lives. Being accepted by a friend, or even stranger, will affect someone’s well-being. It will affect our lives. So think of it as this: when you choose to accept someone else’s words, emotions and fears, you are contributing to their healing, to their comfort, to their happiness. Now isn’t that a good thing? It is. How powerful is that.

So next time we talk about cancer, about our fears of recurrence, or share another article on our social media about anxiety linked to this disease, etc, please think before you come out and post a comment of 'get over it already'. Just like your fear of spiders, or lightning storms or heights, our fears are real and are just there. It is part of who we are, and most likely always will be.

We are all human and we all have fears.

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Adelecroteau's picture
Adele Crouteau is a proud daughter, silly sister to 3 lovely ladies, a loving wife and beaming mother of two beautiful kids. Her life was overturned in 2008 with the death of her mother to ovarian and peritoneal cancer. Just as she was coming down from the shock,she got her own diagnosis of cervical cancer at age 37. You can find Adele on IHC under the username adelecroteau.