Your feelings if you're self-employed and living with cancer
It’s natural to feel a number of emotions when you have cancer. Your feelings may make it difficult for you to concentrate on work and you may need to take some time off to adjust to what’s happening.
Each person has their own experience of cancer and it affects everyone differently. It’s a life-changing experience and most people recognise that things will never be quite the same again.
A cancer diagnosis can cause a number of strong emotions, such as fear, anger, sadness or, sometimes, depression. During treatment these feelings can occur at different times. People often find that, over time, they become easier to cope with. But this isn’t the case for everyone. Some people find that they are still struggling to cope with their feelings weeks, months or even longer after their initial treatment has ended.
If you feel low for a period of time, it’s important to speak to your doctor about your feelings. They can then refer you for more expert help if necessary. If you’re feeling very low and distressed, you can contact the Samaritans
- they run a 24-hour confidential helpline providing support for people in emotional crisis.
We have videos of people talking about their own experiences of depression and anxiety, and a video about how counselling can help.
If you have big decisions to make, it’s best to do this when you’re feeling calm, rather than when you’re feeling anxious and upset. There will be good days and bad days, so try to focus on your business plans when you’re feeling stronger.
Your family is likely to be upset, too, and you may not want to burden them with money worries. However, if they will be affected by your work and financial plans, it can help to let them know if you have concerns. It will help them support you and you can perhaps work together to make plans. They may also be able to help you make any important decisions.
Having to take time off from work may make you feel a variety of emotions. You may feel angry that you can’t be at work when you have a lot to do. You might worry about how the business will carry on, and how you will pay your bills.
If you need to take a lot of time off, you may start to feel out of touch with what’s going on in your business and in your trade or profession. You may lose confidence in your ability to do your job well, or you may worry that customers will feel let down or take their business elsewhere.
Some people can lose a sense of ‘normality’ and self-esteem when they’re not working. All these emotions are natural and normal when you have to take time off because of cancer or cancer treatment. It can help to talk honestly about these feelings to your family, friends and business partners. If there’s someone you like and trust working in the same field as you, it can also help to talk to them. They might have some good advice about your business.
Giving up your business
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Deciding to give up your business is a big step. If work has been a major focus in your life, it can be difficult to adjust.
It may help to talk to someone about your feelings. This may be another family member or a friend. Some people find it easier to talk to a counsellor. You may be able to contact a counsellor through the hospital or your GP, or through a cancer support group.
Being self-employed can feel lonely at times. You may find it helpful to join a support group, where you can talk to other people who have been affected by cancer. Your hospital might be able to put you in touch with one, or our cancer support specialists can tell you about local support groups and online communities. You may like to visit our online community.
Sometimes counselling can help people cope with their feelings. It can also help to restore self-confidence. Some GP surgeries, hospital cancer teams or cancer support groups provide counselling.