My cancer has come back or spread
Learning that your cancer has come back or has spread may be even more devastating than hearing for the first time that you have cancer.
Hearing that your cancer has come back or has spread may be hard to take in. You may find it hard to think clearly, or your mind may go blank. This shock and disbelief can give way to powerful emotions and, at times, you may feel overwhelmed.
People often have a sense of loss, a strong sense of disappointment or feelings of failure. You may have hoped that you were cured and now find that your cancer has come back despite all your efforts to overcome it.
You may find yourself feeling low or tearful. Some people resent that life goes on as normal around them while they have to cope with so much.
Many people are frightened. You may have times when you feel afraid of the illness itself, of any symptoms it may cause (such as pain) or of the treatment and possible side effects. You may worry about the effect it will have on your family. People often worry about the future or about dying.
You may feel very angry - with yourself, or with your doctors and nurses for giving you bad news. You may be angry at fate, feeling that it’s so unfair this has happened. You may be resentful and frustrated that your immediate plans will be disrupted with tests and treatment, and that your long-term plans have suddenly become uncertain.
Some thoughts may shock you, such as ‘I’d love to buy some new clothes, but will I ever get to wear them?’ Different people have different emotions. Living with the uncertainty that comes with advanced cancer is likely to be physically and emotionally demanding.
Be aware of how you feel. It’s natural and normal to feel a variety of powerful emotions when your life is suddenly turned upside-down by illness. There are many ways you can get help to enable you to work through and deal with your emotions.
If you can, find someone you can talk to about how you feel. This may be a family member or friend, a nurse or a religious or spiritual leader. If you feel uncomfortable talking about these things with someone you know, you may prefer to join a support group or see a counsellor.
Remind yourself of the ways in which you have dealt with other difficult situations in the past. Remember the strengths you had then, and see if you can use them again now. Organisations such as Macmillan can help in giving support and information at this time.
You could call our cancer support specialists for support and information at this time.