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Emotional Effects

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For many people, the first few weeks after diagnosis are very stressful. You may have trouble thinking, eating or sleeping. This can last from a few days to several weeks.

It is common to feel that you are on an emotional rollercoaster.

Fear

It's frightening to hear you have cancer. Most people feel better when they know what to expect. Learning about cancer and its treatment may help you cope better.

Anger

It's normal to ask 'why me?' and to feel angry with family, friends, doctors, nurses, or even your God, if you are religious. Anger is a natural reaction to the interruption that cancer has caused to your life plans.

Denial

You may have trouble believing or accepting that you have cancer. Sometimes denial allows people time to adjust to their diagnosis, but denial becomes a problem if it stops you from seeking information and treatment.

Sadness or depression

It is normal for a person with cancer to feel sad. If you have continual feelings of sadness, and feel sleepy and unmotivated, talk to your doctor. You may be clinically depressed.

Guilt

It is common to look for a cause of cancer. Some people blame themselves, but no one is to blame.

Loneliness

If your family and friends have trouble dealing with cancer, or if you are too sick to enjoy your usual activities, you might feel lonely and isolated. It's natural to feel that nobody understands what you are going through.

Loss of control

Being told you have cancer can make you feel you have lost control of your life. Learning more about the cancer and its treatment, and how best to look after yourself, can help give you back some feeling of control.

If you are having trouble dealing with any of your emotions, consider talking to family and friends, seeking professional help or joining a support group

Emotions and Cancer (PDF 942KB)
Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis (PDF 440KB)

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