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 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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
You can also access individual counseling of group therapy
Therapy for you
Call: 01268 739128
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
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 visit macmillan.org.uk or cancer research
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