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For childhood cancer survivors, resilience is the rule.
Most survivors adjust well mentally and emotionally to the life changes brought about by childhood cancer. Although no one would choose to have cancer, many survivors and their families identify positives from their experiences. They often have a deeper appreciation of life and its possibilities, more meaningful relationships, and stronger spiritual connections than they did before facing cancer.
However, survivors of childhood cancer often face challenges related to their emotional well-being.
Challenges and difficulties may include (but are not limited to):
It is normal to experience emotional ups and downs as a childhood cancer survivor. It is natural to worry and feel sad some of the time.
When worry or sadness occur:
Everybody reacts differently to challenges and problems. In healthy coping, a person may take steps to identify the problem at hand, generate potential solutions, and take active steps to test out these solutions.
Signs of unhealthy coping include turning to harmful habits such as heavy alcohol use, tobacco, drugs, and overeating. People who are having trouble adjusting may withdraw from relationships and situations.
These lifestyle choices can lead to physical problems and emotional distress that may need medical attention.
If feelings of worry and sadness last 2 weeks or more and/or interfere the ability to take care of home, school, or work responsibilities, survivors are encouraged to talk with their primary health care provider. Together, they can explore possible causes and treatments for these symptoms. If necessary, the provider can help with a referral to a mental health professional.
Some other possible signs and symptoms that help is needed may include:
Cancer survivors are encouraged to pay attention to how they are managing and coping with the different challenges during life after cancer. If they have problems, reaching out to their support network and health care professionals are good options.
Reviewed: February 2023