Dealing with feelings about your cancer
Some people find it easy to talk about their feelings. However, many people are not used to doing this and can feel awkward.
It's not normally a problem if you find it hard to talk about your feelings. But when something serious happens, most people find that they want to talk about how they feel. They may then feel uncomfortable because they aren’t used to it.
If you, or a family member or friend, have strong emotions and don’t talk about them, it can make it hard to talk about anything. So if either of you feels angry, afraid, embarrassed or sad, your conversation will feel difficult until one of you talks openly about your feelings. If you’re able to, try saying something like, ‘I’m sorry I seem in such a bad mood today, but I’ve just been told that...’. You may then suddenly find that it becomes much easier.
Some tips for dealing with your emotions include:
Always accept any strong feelings – whether they are your own or those of someone you’re close to.
Always try to describe your feelings and not simply act on them. For example if you say, ‘I’m feeling really angry today because...’, this can start a conversation. But if you show your anger by being sharp and irritable, it can make talking difficult.
It’s okay to feel any way you like. The way you feel is the way you feel – emotions are not right or wrong. But if you try to cover up strong feelings, problems can become more difficult to solve.
Don’t be afraid to tell the other person how much they mean to you. In our daily lives we don’t often do this. But when there’s a crisis, it’s really worthwhile to tell the other person how you feel about them.
Don’t be afraid to say you’re unsure. If you don’t know how you feel, or if you don’t know what’s going to happen or how you’re going to cope, it’s fine to say so.
Words are not always needed. Holding someone’s hand, hugging them or simply sitting together in silence can often mean as much, or more, than words.
Everybody has some regrets in their life. Don’t feel that you’re not allowed to talk about yours. More than any other emotion, regret can be reduced when it’s shared. This may strengthen the bond between you and those close to you.
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Complementary therapies, which include relaxation, visualisation and meditation, can help some people cope with their cancer and can also help give a feeling of being in control. Some hospitals offer complementary therapies as part of their cancer services. You can ask if any therapies are available at your hospital. We have a section on cancer and complementary therapies, which you might find helpful.
Some people find it helpful to keep a diary, journal or online blog where they can write down all their thoughts, feelings and frustrations. Some people also write down their feelings about any good or positive things that happen to them. Keeping a diary can help you work through various problems. Some people find it can give them back a sense of control and perspective and help them deal with emotions and difficult situations. Creative writing may also help you to relax and express your feelings.
You can set up an online blog on Macmillan’s online community.