How to Stop the Fear of Cancer Recurrence

June 22 2

As a 16 year Inflammatory Breast Cancer survivor and confidence coach, the most frequently asked questions I get are

Do you ever stop living in fear of cancer coming back?

What can you do if you are constantly worried about your cancer recurrence?

How can you have hope when the future seems so uncertain?

Here are my 3 top tips, part of my anti cancer lifestyle and I want to show you how you can eliminate that fear, because I believe that living in fear is not really living. That fear and dread of what might happen is understandable, but if you don't deal with that, it can really overshadow that what's left of our lives, and the truth is that none of us know how long we've got left.

But surely we all want to live positive, inspired uplifting lives. After the devastation of a cancer diagnosis and then grueling treatment – do we not deserve to be happy? I think we do.

One of the biggest shocks that hit me after my cancer journey was - when the treatments were all finished and the doctors waved me off - it wasn't over.

It wasn't just the physical recovery, I was exhausted physically and mentally. And for a while I was clinically depressed, tearful and anxious. But I got through that and so can you.

But to truly heal, it’s not just about removing the tumor or whatever illness you have, it’s about nurturing your mind, body and spirit, something I never found time to do, until a cancer diagnosis stopped me in my tracks and forced me to change the way I was living. 

1 Follow a plan

Having a structure, having a plan in place to deal with all the aspects that you might want to look at after your cancer treatment is finished really helped me. So thinking about your nutrition, exercise, your relationships, sorting out any unfinished business that you've got, maybe sorting out your financial situation, your career,  all aspects of your life for truly holistic healing to start.

Working on a plan with somebody who's there to hold your hand, somebody who's been in your shoes, all our journeys are different, I know that but once you've recovered from a cancer diagnosis, it really just helps sometimes to talk to somebody who's been there, and knows what life is like after cancer treatment ends.

If you have a plan, you know you've done everything in your power to stop the cancer coming back.

If you have done everything that you can, that is such a powerful feeling, because when you first get that cancer diagnosis, you feel helpless and weak, your health is totally in the hands of your medics. The doctors that are looking after you are the experts, they get you through this treatment that you're starting.

But once treatment is finished, you have the power to come up with a plan or work with somebody who can help you to say, ‘I'm doing everything that I can, I'm throwing everything at this’

I asked my doctor what I could do, and he vaguely said ‘just eat healthy and try and exercise’

That was not enough for me - I wanted to know more, I was desperate for guidance, but that was not my doctor’s role, he made that clear.

I often say I studied cancer recovery and cancer remission, as if my life depended on it. Because - spoiler alert, it did. I was told my cancer was rare and aggressive. And IBC has a very high recurrence rate, my prognosis was not good. And so I just decided to study, follow other people, and follow other people's plans until I devised my own. But having a plan means to me that I've done everything that I can to stop it coming back, and it's given me comfort and a sense of control. And that's a great feeling.

2. Master your self talk

The second thing that I'd like to ask you to think about is the question that a lot of cancer survivors ask themselves, and that is, ‘ but what if my cancer comes back?’

I know it can get so that you are playing that question over and over in your mind, especially if you have trouble sleeping, these thoughts can often come in the middle of the night.

We all have self talk, we all do it. I've talked before about the power of affirmations, and how they can really help you to have better thoughts. We all have the power at any one time to choose our way of thinking.

Sometimes people say ‘ well I couldn't help it’  or ‘I can’t help worrying’. You might have to train yourself. It's like learning any new skill. It might feel strange at first, but you can do this if you decide to stop negative thoughts running your life, So just remember that just tell that nasty thought when it's coming into your mind to go away.  Just sweep it away and just say ‘no, I'm not listening to that.’ And affirmations are a great tool to help you to do that.

The other thing I would ask you to do is just to reflect on,  if you're asking yourself, ‘What if my cancer comes back?’ Why not ask yourself the opposite of that? What if that cancer never comes back? What will my life look like then? If it never comes back what would I be able to do? What would I be able to be? What would I be able to achieve in my life? If the cancer never came back, what would I want to do? And then I would ask you to play that scenario out, in your mind - have a little daydream, if you like. I used to get told off when I was younger for daydreaming, but I quite like this now, imagining my life in five years time,  in 10 years time, hopefully in 20 years time, thinking about what will my life be like, if I'm happy and healthy, and my cancer doesn't come back?

3. Surround yourself with cancer thrivers

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
JIM ROHN - Self-made millionaire and successful author

This quote is often used by ambitious people who get serious about designing their lives. I would invite you to get serious about who you spend time talking to and listening to. I don’t listen any more to survivors who are living in fear – but positive role models who are living the way that I want to live.

No judgement here, it’s understandable after everything you have been through since your diagnosis to be afraid.

There are a lot of online groups, and I’ve joined a few of them in the past, full of people going through cancer. It can be useful to talk to people who understand. But quite often those groups are filled with fear. They can be filled with people saying, ‘Oh, what if my cancer comes back?’ and that opens a floodgate of comments with people agreeing that it can’t be helped to feel like that, and your fate is in the lap of the Gods.

I actually saw somebody writing in one group ‘Well, it always comes back, and there’s nothing you can do’. I think that is a strange belief to have, because it doesn't always come back. That's simply not true.

And secondly, if you believe that, it can almost become a self-fulfilling prophecy, when you are waiting, living In fear of that second diagnosis to be given to you. I'm not judging anybody here, my heart goes out to the woman who wrote that, and I am sorry that she is living like that, because she's not learning how to overcome her fears.

We all have choices, and I choose to focus on the hope (and followed by inspired action of following my wellness plan) that my cancer will not come back.  And I choose to surround myself with cancer thrivers. I read their books, attend their seminars, I follow them on social media. My Facebook group Confidence After Cancer, does not allow any of that negativity.

And I’m not saying that every day is wonderful, because it's not, life is full of ups and downs of course. You know, as Ronan Keating sang, ‘Life is a roller coaster’ But my group is full of cancer thrivers. And these are people, mostly women, there are some men in there as well, that are choosing to thrive after their treatment finishes. They are chasing their dreams, some of them are moving house, some of them are even moving to new countries, some are starting new relationships, some are starting new jobs, some that are pursuing qualifications that they've always wanted to study, some are starting their own businesses.

And that was like me, I really changed direction after my cancer diagnosis, I'd always enjoyed coaching. And that's what I wanted to do, be a coach. So that’s what I do now. I also had dreams of being a journalist when I was a child, now I write blogs and record a podcast. At the age of 60 I started a YouTube channel. It’s never too late.

So surround yourself with people who are focusing on how good life can be, not how cruel it can be sometimes, because it's cruel, and it's unfair to all of us at times. I understand that but I don’t allow myself to stay focused on that. For me, just as important as your physical recovery from cancer, is your mental recovery. Your health, your happiness and your joy. They are the goals that you should be pursuing, in my view, because that's how I want to live my life.

That's how I want to lead my Facebook group and on my socials as well. That's a message that I want to share with people is, once your treatment is finished, it's a tough time and nobody prepared me for just how tough that was going to be. I really expected when my cancer treatment finished to be able to bounce back and just go back to being the person that I was before. But it wasn't the same person. And my priorities, my goals, my outlook on life had really shifted, and I am determined to make the most of however long I have left.

It may be a cliche, but it's so true, life is short, and life is what you make it.

So what do you want to make it? That would be my question I want to leave you with.

So in summary - stop the fear, follow a plan. If you haven't got a plan, I've got one that I can share with you reach out to me and I'd love to talk to you about that.

Choose your thoughts. Don't let those thoughts run away with you. You are in control of those thoughts, even if sometimes it feels like you're not. You can learn to train your mind.

Surround yourself with positive uplifting cancer thrivers people who are living life, people who are making things happen.

Thanks for reading it means a lot to me, Gabby x

  • You can download my ebook here if you want some simple steps to improve your confidence today

  • Information on keeping safe by managing your exposure to toxins – click here

Toxins information PDF - Gabrielle Mottershead (

If you are ready to lose the fear and start living again – we need to talk - book a call with me here:


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