Coping with your feelings about advanced cancer
It is natural to have a range of feelings when you have advanced cancer but there is help available.
Worrying about the future
Feelings about death and dying
Being diagnosed with advanced cancer can make you think about how long you might live and when you will die. Dying is something that is certain for all of us. But it is not something that we talk about very much.
Some people feel calm about the fact that they are going to die. But others are frightened by the thought.
Death cafes are opportunities to meet with other people to talk about death. Being with others who are having similar feelings and emotions can make it easier to talk about your own feelings.
Death cafes are led by someone who will help and support the conversation. They are held in different places throughout the country. Some hospices help with these and have dates of when and where they are being held locally. Visit deathcafe.com to find out more.
We all express and manage our feelings in different ways. It may be clear how someone is feeling by what they say and how they say it. But sometimes, one emotion can cover another. For example, a person might be frightened but express this by being short-tempered or irritable.
Talking about our feelings can help us understand the cause of our behaviour. This is not always easy, so it is important to talk to someone you trust. If you are feeling overwhelmed by your emotions, there are healthcare professionals who can support you.
Many people find their faith can offer them emotional support and strength during their illness. Some people may find they become more aware of religious or spiritual feelings. Other people may find themselves questioning their faith when they are told their cancer has come back or spread.
You may find it helpful to talk to a religious or spiritual leader or advisor. They can offer emotional and spiritual comfort, and help you feel more at peace with your situation. Even if you have not attended religious services regularly before or are not sure what you believe, you can still talk to someone. They are used to dealing with uncertainty and will not be shocked.
Hospices usually provide spiritual support to people of all faiths or no faith. This is often available through their day services.You may prefer to talk to someone who is not religious. Humanist Care has volunteers who can provide non-religious pastoral support.
There are things you can do yourself that can help you cope with your feelings. Some people find that keeping a diary or journal helps them express their thoughts and feelings.
Many people use complementary therapies to help them cope with symptoms, stress or anxiety. These therapies include:
- a combination of these techniques.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you to recognise any unhelpful thoughts. We have more information about talking, counselling and support groups.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a technique which combines CBT and mindfulness. Mindfulness helps you learn to focus on the present moment using techniques like meditation, breathing techniques and yoga. There are a few centres in the UK that offer MBCT classes on the NHS. Talk to your healthcare team to find out where classes are available.We have more information about mind-body therapies.