Iris hummingbird holding a sign that says "Dear Iris".
Navigating Emotions

Dear Iris: Am I Ever Going to be the Same?

Dear Iris,

I just finished chemo a month ago. I’m mid-way through radiation now. It’s just incredible how life-changing this all has been and how scary it is to not know if you’ll ever be the same person, you were before. I want to feel positive but it’s tough. Do you have any advice?


Dear H,

This is a great question. I want to acknowledge that going through cancer and undergoing treatment is a life-changing experience and you may be rethinking who you are, how you relate to others, and how you fit into everything. As much as you may want things to return to “normal”, it may not be realistic or helpful to think that your life is going to look the same as it did before cancer.

Acknowledging change is not easy and can bring up painful feelings like grief and loss, especially when you're longing for the past or a specific future you had in mind. These feelings are very common for people navigating life after a cancer diagnosis.

It's important to give yourself permission and to reflect on the profound impact cancer has had on both you and your relationships with others. At the same time, keep in mind those aspects of you, such as your core values, that are unchangeable and constant. Giving yourself space and time to process the emotional impact of cancer can seem overwhelming. The goal here is to find acceptance in who you are now and what matters most to you. And remember, change isn’t necessarily negative or bad–in fact, you may find that there are some positive things that have happened to you since cancer has come into your life.

As you consider new ways of coping with cancer, it is important to be patient and kind to yourself. Coping with cancer is not always simple or easy. Know that there is support available–through the Iris Mental Health Team–to help you process and cope with your cancer experience and with the various emotions that may come up for you.

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Alexandra Gubin, LCSW

Senior Oncology Social Worker

Iris Oncology

Alexandra Gubin is a Mental Health Therapist with Iris. She has a medical social work background and extensive experience supporting people with cancer – especially young adults, teens, and children coping with cancer and their families. Alexandra also facilitates various support groups for the Cancer Support Community of Los Angeles, CA.

This article meets Iris standards for medical accuracy. It has been fact-checked by the Iris Clinical Editorial Board, our team of oncology experts who ensure that the content is evidence based and up to date. The Iris Clinical Editorial Board includes board-certified oncologists and pharmacists, psychologists, advanced practice providers, licensed clinical social workers, oncology-certified nurses, and dietitians.