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Your Feelings

Being diagnosed with cancer often stirs up a lot of different feelings.

It is important to realise that there is no right or wrong way of dealing with the diagnosis and the feelings you may experience are completely normal. It is often not just the patient who experiences these feelings but also family and friends. Sometimes talking can help, either with family / friends or to the health professionals looking after you. It is also alright if you do not want to talk. Some of the feelings you may experience are explained below.

Shock is often the first feeling that is experienced when being given a diagnosis of 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.

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. Over recent years there have been many advances in the treatment of cancer and many cancers can be cured. If a cancer cannot be cured, many of the treatments can help keep the disease controlled allowing people to live as normal a life as possible. These advances also mean that symptoms such as pain are more easily controlled.

It is not unusual to feel frightened. The fear is often worse than the facts. If you have any fears about the cancer or the treatment that has been recommended it is important to discuss these with the nurse, radiographer or doctor who is looking after you.

At first, some people find the diagnosis difficult to accept. They prefer not to know or to ask anything. This is their way of coping with the news. There is nothing wrong with feeling this way but it is important to be sure you have understood what has been said.

People can feel angry at the news they have been given. Feelings of irritability and anger are not uncommon. Your anger may be directed at loved ones and those around you. Explain how you are feeling so those around you can support you. Do not feel guilty about being angry or irritable, it is perfectly normal.

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 alone for a short time. It may be your family that feels this way. It is important to respect these feelings but also not to shut each other out completely. Let people know you need this time so they can understand what you are feeling.

Sometimes it can be difficult to cope with the smallest of things. These may be physical things, such as the shopping or the ironing. Sometimes it is the emotions you are experiencing which you may find difficult. Friends and family will ask to help and often they are pleased to do so, especially at a time when they may be feeling helpless. Your GP may also be able to arrange some help if you need it.

All of the feelings mentioned are normal. You may experience one of them, you may experience a mixture of them. Whatever you are feeling it is important to remember that support is available. If you don’t feel you want to talk to family or friends you may wish to talk to a member of staff. If you do, they will take the time to talk things through with you. If it helps, write your questions down.

The member of staff you talk to will be happy to go over anything as often as you need to, so don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat things. It may help to bring someone with you.

We can’t promise to have all the answers but we will try to give you as much information and support as you need.