Panic and dread


Hi. I’ve just had this site recommended to me by Macmillan, so here goes...

2 years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had my operation, chemo and radiotherapy, all of which ended about 16 months ago. 

Through all of that, I just ‘got on with it’ - after all, what choice did I have? I’ve been back at work for over a year and recently began to feel more like me again. I still have issues with tiredness and lovely side effects from my medication, but I’m ok.

So why have I suddenly got horrendous feelings of panic and dread that I’ve got secondary cancer which hasn’t been found? There is no reason for me to feel like this, but I can’t get the thought out of my head. Can anyone advise?

Ann T

I was  diagnosed with base of the tongue stage 4 nearly 4 years. Successfully treated with chemo & Radiotherapy but the after-effects of the treatment can last for life!  We are so closely supported and monitored while we have treatment and then we have regular checkups and we get a kind of strength to get through it all but that dread does not go away just presents itself one way or another!  I didn't realise getting a different all singing all dancing car would make me so worried or travelling by myself would be such a big deal! I did the travelling & getting used to the scarey care but It's not possible to always be brave! sorry this is not very helpful! 


Hi Catherine 

After what you have been through it’s no surprise you are having concerns about things returning.. I think we all go through those moments on a regular basis. However, looking at it logically you will be the most tested person you know ! The chances of things being missed is very slim indeed. 

Do you still have regular hospital contact? If not, getting a local GP on board to get you checked when you feel anxious might be useful? 

I’ve been on a leukaemia journey back to life since 2016, what I have realised is that awareness of cancer generally is improving in my view . 

Time is a great improver of mind set and I am sure with more time you will worry less and reduce those concerns. Good luck on your personal journey. 


Hi Catherine, I had the same feelings when I finished my radiotherapy, I’m still technically in treatment but the major stuff is done. I was lucky enough to get free counselling with a local (N Ireland) charity called Cancer Focus. It really helped, the main take aways for me were that it’s not an anxiety disorder if you’re worrying about something that’s totally reasonable to worry about (Plus for me, premature menopause was also contributing because it’s known to cause anxiety) but there are strategies you can learn to make it manageable. Cognitive behaviour therapy practices were particularly useful for me but you could also try things like relaxation techniques and mindfulness. There are some good books on Amazon but if you can, try to get referred for counselling. I hope that helps.


Thanks to you all for your responses. It can be a very lonely journey so it’s really comforting to hear how others cope.

Macmillan advised me to speak to my GP, who has now referred me for counselling. I hope it helps, but it’s good to have some other ideas, too.

 Thank you for taking the time to share xx


Hi Catherine  - I guess I'm now an old timer - diagnosed and treated for carcinoma anal canal 1990. What helped? I was lucky enough to be able to survive more than the year I'd hoped for. (It's now 30 years on!) Not only that, I was unable to work but had enough intermittent energy to do some of the things I'd always wanted to do eg learn deaf signing & become an adult literacy teacher. I also took a counselling course & helped set up a local cancer support and information group (and ran it for 12 years) - helping other people really helped to take my mind off my own problems (I was also going through divorce). At the same time I was invited to become a member of the local Community Health Council and was extremely fortunate to be able to do a p/t art course and from there stepped onto a local p/tfine art degree course. (I was then in heaven as art was my first love and I hadn't had the opportunity for university!) But I also had many healthcare issues that needed addressing and inadvertently became a health advocate/activist, began writing and speaking out/giving presentations/ involved in healthcare charity work - user involvement - working alongside healthcare professionals in many natinal organisations. This has all been spread over the past 30 years and I'm now an old crumblie with long term health problems, including those from cancer treatment. But I'm still an activist, still doing my bit to bring improvements in healthcare - and (as well as my social activities) it's probably what keeps me going!  I suppose what I'm trying to say is: fill your time (and your head) with as many good things as you can. What helps is giving yourself treats, doing what you've always wanted to do and, if that's your thing, supporting others. Your confidence in your body will grow over time. It's taken a bashing, but it will come back! Warmest wishes. Mitzi.

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