ARCHIVED - How can I cope with cancer?


Finding out you have cancer brings many changes. You will probably deal with many practical issues, make tough decisions and cope with a range of emotions. Here are some suggestions to help you cope.

  1. Talk to the people involved with your care

    • Write down questions to ask your healthcare team, when you think of them, so that you won't forget them at your next appointment.
    • Go to your medical appointments.
    • Talk to your healthcare team about your worries and anything that you don't understand.
    • Take part in making decisions that affect you.
    • Ask your healthcare team how you can contact them between appointments if you have any questions that need answers quickly.
  2. Acknowledge your emotions

    You might feel angry, uncertain, guilty, lonely, sad, stressed out, anxious or in denial. The wide range of emotions that you may feel is a normal part of a cancer experience. You are not alone if you feel any, or all of them, at some time or another. It's also normal to sometimes feel numb, as if you can't feel anything at all. Each person's experience is different.

    Each person also has his or her own way to relieve stress. As you learn to cope with cancer, you can look for the best way to make yourself feel better and deal with the emotions that sometimes come with cancer.

    You may want to consider:

    • venting your emotions,
    • doing creative activities,
    • exercising,
    • talking to others, and
    • deep relaxation.
  3. Accept help from others

    While you may find it hard to ask for, and accept help, having help can make coping with cancer easier. There are many different kinds of help and we all have different needs for help. Throughout your cancer journey, you might need help with getting to treatment, doing housework or yardwork, cooking meals, and so on. Some people - often family and friends - are very good at this sort of practical help.

    Another important kind of help is the kind that comes with listening, offering support or counselling. Your family and friends may support you by doing this, or you may also find it helpful to turn to your healthcare team, other healthcare professionals or other people living with cancer.

    Sources of help available to people with cancer and their caregivers include:

    • family and friends,
    • other people with similar experiences,
    • mental health or psychosocial oncology professionals,
    • spiritual care providers,
    • patient advocates, discharge planners, and volunteers, and
    • organized support groups.
  4. Look after your relationships

    Living with cancer affects your whole family, and other people who are close to you, such as:

    • your partner or spouse,
    • younger children,
    • teenage children
    • parents
    • adult children
    • siblings
    • friends, and
    • colleagues.

Additional resources

Adapted from material prepared by the Canadian Cancer Society. This information appeared originally on the Canadian Health Network Web site and has been edited for publication by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Page details

Date modified: