What kinds of losses do cancer survivors commonly experience?

Cancer survivors may experience losses in a variety of ways, and some may be easy to see and name. However, other losses can be harder to recognize. A loss may be temporary or permanent, life-altering, or a minor inconvenience. For example, hair loss from treatment can be very important to some, but less important to others. Any type of loss may be an emotional experience. The following are types of losses that might be experienced by some survivors:

Physical losses:
  • A body function
  • Changes in the ability to have sex
  • Lessened strength or energy
  • An ability or skill to perform certain activities
  • Physical comfort
  • Fertility
  • Bodily changes such as a scar or amputation
Emotional losses:
  • Sense of security and predictability such as in health and in the future
  • Sense of control or independence
  • Self-esteem or sense of identity
  • Self-confidence
  • Body image
  • Goals, hopes, or dreams
  • Faith or spirituality
  • Habits, such as changes in daily routines, or life “the way it used to be”
Social and relationship losses:
  • Relationships with friends, family members or coworkers
  • Sexual relationships
  • Ability to have own biological child
  • Loss of certain roles such as providing for the family
  • Loss of other cancer survivors
Financial losses:
  • Career or job opportunities
  • Financial security
  • Insurance
  • Ability to work

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.