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Being diagnosed with cancer often stirs up a lot of different feelings for the patient as well as carers. It is important to realise that there is no right or wrong way of dealing with the diagnosis and the feelings you might experience. Some of the feelings commonly experienced are described below.

Shock

Shock is often the first feeling that is experienced when being diagnosed with cancer. It is hard to believe it is happening to you. This is the sort of thing that happens to other people. People react differently when in shock. Some people want to constantly talk about things, others feel numb and find it very difficult to talk. It can also be difficult to take in much of the information given to you. The staff will be happy to go over things with you as often as you need. You may find it helpful to write things down.

Fear

The word cancer can be very frightening. Many people think of death or pain when they hear the word cancer but this is because of the many myths about the disease. Cancer treatments have greatly improved over the years, and many cancers can be cured. If a cancer cannot be cured, many treatments can help keep the disease controlled allowing people to live as normal life as possible. Many cancer patients are frightened about their cancer treatment, it often helps to discuss these with your doctor or nurse.

Denial

Some people find it difficult to accept the cancer diagnosis at first. They prefer not to know, not to think about it or ask any questions. This can be their way of coping with the news.

Anger

People can feel angry about having been given a cancer diagnosis. Feelings of anger and irritability are not uncommon. At times anger is directed at loved ones and those around you, which can lead to tension. Try and explain how you are feelings to those around you.

Withdrawal

You may feel you want to shut out the world and take your time to come to terms with what is happening. You may feel you just want to be left alone. Try and let people around you know that you need time alone, so they can understand what you are feeling.

Coping

Sometimes it can be difficult to cope with the smallest of things. These may be physical such as shopping or ironing. Sometimes it is the emotions you are experiencing you find difficult. Friends and family will ask to help and often they are pleased to do so. You may however feel that you would prefer to access help elsewhere. 

All of the feelings mentioned are normal. You may experience one of them or a mixture of them. Whatever you are feeling it is important to remember that support is available. If you don't feel that you want to talk to family or friends you may wish to talk to a healthcare professional, such as your GP or specialist nurse. Alternatively, you may prefer to see a counsellor at your GP practice or the oncology counsellor here at the hospital. 

Oncology Counsellor at Southend Hospital
01702 385190 - you will need a referal from your specialist cancer team.

Cancer Support Centre - Helen Rollason provides counselling and complementary therapy at St Lukes Community Centre, St Lukes Road, Southend SS2 4AB. To book an appointment pleae call 07876 896958 or email southend@helenrollason.org.uk

You can also access individual counselling of group therapy via:

Therapy for you
Call: 01268 739128
Web:Therapyforyou.co.uk

Get self help

You can always pop into the Macmillan information and support centre and speak to one of the volunteers or staff. 

When your treatment is over

Although it may be a relief not coming to the hospital so frequently, it is also not unusual for some people to feel alone and possibly find that they have some difficulty coping. Quite suddenly life is expected to carry on as before, but in reality you may feel that you are a different person. You may feel physically tired and weak and emotionally drained.

Please see our calendar for events that might be of use to you.

For general Cancer advice or more information

You can speak speak to a specialist cancer nurse at Macmillan on 0808 808 0000 (Mon-Fri, 9am - 8pm) or Cancer Research on 0808 800 4040 or visit macmillan.org.uk or cancer research

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