Feelings and cancer

General cancer information

Feelings and cancer

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be an emotionally difficult time. 

There is no right or wrong way to cope with the news. It is normal to feel anxious and emotional, and most people need time to adjust. 

Feelings when you have cancer

A cancer diagnosis has an enormous impact on your life. It can produce many different feelings. These can include:

  • shock and denial
  • being overwhelmed
  • fear and anxiety
  • stress
  • guilt
  • sadness and depression
  • loss of control
  • loneliness.

It is important to know there are people you can talk to and organisations that can help.

Ways to help you cope

People cope with cancer in different ways. You may find it helpful to:

  • Learn as much as you can about your cancer type and treatment. This can help you feel more in control.
  • Express your feelings. Some people find that expressing emotions such as fear and anger helps them to cope. There are many ways to express feelings, such as keeping a journal, drawing or painting.
  • Accept help from family and friends. They often want to help, but may need ideas from you about what would be useful.
  • Talk to your doctor or the other health professionals looking after you about how you feel.
  • Talk with other people who have cancer, or who had it in the past. This can help you understand what to expect from cancer and treatment.
  • Many people also find hope and comfort in spiritual or religious beliefs.

There are also professionals and organisations who help people cope with cancer:

  • The Cancer Council Information and Support line, 13 11 20, has specially trained staff available to offer support.
  • You can also ask to see a counsellor or psychologist at your cancer treatment clinic, or through your general practitioner.

Where to get help

There are people you can talk to for more information or support.

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