Coping with Cancer
Coping with cancer is a very individual thing and everybody deals with their diagnosis in their own way, it is important to remember there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way. You are likely to feel a range of emotions when you are diagnosed with cancer. These may change over time, during treatment and when treatment has finished. You may feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster and feel like you are dealing with things fine one day but then completely overwhelmed the next.
It is important to talk about your feelings and your fears to somebody, don’t bottle everything up inside. Very often people don’t want to burden or upset their closest family and friends, they feel more comfortable offloading to somebody they are not so close to. This is exactly why our charity exists. If you do not live in our area then there may be another centre similar to ours or a hospice where you can go for support. Alternatively you can always contact many cancer support charities.
For details of other places to look for support in your area please call us on 01827 899590 and we would be happy to look into this for you.
You may decide you need professional counselling, and this isn’t something to be embarrassed about. A cancer diagnosis can be life changing, so it is only natural that it may have a huge impact on your emotional wellbeing.
Being positive and thinking positively can help you cope with cancer, but it is natural to also feel upset and frightened sometimes despite trying to be positive.
People with cancer are often encouraged to be positive. But it is not always very easy. Living with cancer and its treatment can be frightening. There will be times when you might feel low and worried about your future.
You can be positive and think positively without always feeling cheerful or optimistic.
It means recognising some of the fearful possibilities that can arise from having cancer. Thinking positively also recognises the importance of hope whatever your situation.
Even if your cancer is advanced, some treatments might relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
Feeling upset and frightened can be a sign of strength and may reflect your courage in facing up to an uncertain future. But sometimes it can help to try to change negative thoughts into something more positive when they come into your head. This takes practice.
This doesn’t mean that you always have to stop yourself feeling down. It is important to allow yourself to experience your feelings.
It is fine to cry if you need to. If you feel very angry, find a safe way to express this.
You could try gentle exercise or listening to music. Sometimes they really can help. Maybe watch one of your favourite films or TV shows for a bit of escapism.
Make sure that you have a good support network of positive people around you that can really help lift your spirits and be there when you need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen to how you are feeling. Attending a centre like ours where you can talk to other people honestly and openly would be beneficial, you may be surprised at how much talking to others can help.
Remember to take each day as it comes and LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Don’t try to overdo things but equally try to do little bits when you can. If you need to rest … REST!
Try to eat as well as you can which may not be easy if your cancer or treatment is making you sick or very tired. But if you can, eating a healthy, well balanced diet will keep up your energy levels and may make it easier to cope with feeling depressed or anxious. It also gives your body the best fuel possible to keep fighting.
Try different relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga. Also maybe having a massage or reiki may help you feel more relaxed. We do all of these things at the centre so please call us to book an appointment if you feel you can benefit from them.
Keeping a journal or diary may help to release your feelings, by putting words on paper you are letting go instead of keeping them bottled up inside. A diary can also help you spot patterns, for example if you check back you may see that it is always on a certain day after your chemotherapy that you start to feel tired or sick, so then you can plan for your next chemo sessions and know in advance when your bad days are likely to be. You can also read back and see the progress you have made and how far you have come which may well be the incentive you need to keep on going.
Craft therapy can be another way to help as a coping mechanism. By taking your mind off your illness and concentrating on other things it can give you some time to relax, create something arty and let your mind wander away from ‘cancer’. We hold craft groups at the centre and by talking to other people whilst making different things it really helps our clients to escape from their problems for a short time.
When your treatment is over this may be the time when you feel at your worst emotionally, don’t worry, this is very normal. Often during a cancer diagnosis you are on a treadmill of appointments, treatments and more appointments. It is often the case that when you step off that treadmill and have no more appointments you feel adrift and don’t know where to turn. It can be a scary place to be when you don’t have another appointment for 6 or 12 months, and you may be frightened that your cancer will come back. This is a completely understandable reaction but it is important not to bury those fears. Please talk about them to somebody you trust, whether that be a family member, a friend or a cancer support centre like ours.
The most important tip we can give you for coping with not just cancer but with any chronic illness is one word ….. TALK!