Connection Between Stress And Cancer Recovery


You know that stress and cancer recovery are deeply connected. But do you know how stressed you are and where is your stress coming from? Find our how you can understand your Stressors.

Since stress can compromise your immunity and cause illness, it’s time to act. It’s important to assess and release your Stressors. Further, you need to incorporate and build upon your Strengths.


3 main sources of stress

Stress and cancer recovery are the two sides of the same coin. Your Stressors could be physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual. To begin your healing journey, you need to understand where is the stress coming from.

1. Life History

Each person has a specific life history i.e. the actual events that one has experienced in one’s life. But people also come to believe certain ‘stories’ about themselves, pertaining to these events, where they have unconsciously selected certain aspects of an event and left out others.

2. Lifestyle

are stress and cancer recovery linkedYour lifestyle choices are another key source of stress. It includes daily habits  like unhealthy diet, inadequate exercise, work pressure, lack of rest, as well as smoking and drinking.

3. Life-stance

Life-stance or our innate personality could be responsible for your illness. Who we are, our attitudes, our beliefs and assumptions – can in themselves be stressful. Research, though not conclusive, indicates a ‘Type C’ or cancer-prone personality.

Here are some interesting psychological patterns commonly seen in cancer patients:

  • A sharp degree of self-absorption, often masked by overt self-denial, self-sacrifice or a sense of perceiving oneself as a victim.
  • A tendency to repress emotions and/or an inclination towards self-pity and depression, pointing to a strong shadow or the dark side of the personality.
  • Flirting with thoughts of death or having a ‘death wish.’
  • Repression (of anger) as a primary psychological defence mechanism, in order to avoid conflict.

Stress and cancer recovery

It’s important to discover strengths and stressors to begin your cancer recovery. There is not enough support to map strengths and Stressors. So we created the Holistic Health Questionnaire – available online – to do this

Here’s how Vijay Bhat mapped his stressors and worked on his strengths during his cancer journey.

StressorRisk rating (in 2000)I let go... (between 2001–2011)I developed... (between 2001–2011)Risk rating (in 2011)
Physical: Diet and exercise; rest and relaxation; socialization and laughterHigh• Career stress
• Frequent international travel
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Healthier diet
• Regular exercise regimen
• Ideal weight
• Meditation and chanting practice
Mental: Limiting beliefs; negative self- talk; judgmentsMedium• Expectation that life be fair.
• Linking my uniqueness/ relevance to the value I add.
• Judging people who don’t listen well.
• Acceptance of life’s polarities.
• Understanding that my self-worth means more than the value I may add.
• Listening as the means and not the end.

Emotional: Unresolved blocks; recurring patterns.High• Avarice (to a large extent); melancholy and rage (to some extent).• Coaching/training skills.
• Engagement and connection with people.
• Better acceptance of others.
Systemic: Relationship issuesMedium• Detachment from my roots (immediate/extended family and community).
• Superficial relationships based on social/professional standing.
• Renewed connection with my community and culture.
• Closer and deeper relationships, socially and professionally.
Psycho-spiritual: Connection with the DivineHigh• Expectations of, and disappointment with, God.
• Dependence on outer direction/guidance.
• Lack of a spiritual stance or practice.
• Regular spiritual practice.
• Openness to inner guidance.
• Awareness of ‘following my bliss’ and bringing my unique gift to the world.


  • What issues do you need to address urgently?
  • What personal habits do you need to modify (do more of/less of/let go altogether)?
  • Are there any high risk factors that you can spot?
  • How can you take responsibility for your stressors and strengths?

Nothing can prepare you for the cancer journey. But advice from someone who has been there and done that can certainly provide valuable guidance. You can watch the Cancer Awakens video series here and read the articles here.


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