Coping with Cancer

Being diagnosed with cancer can be difficult to adjust to for a variety of reasons. It can lead to excessive worry brought about by the illness itself, treatment, changes to the body, long term health implications and the affects it may have on work and family. You may also have to consider your own mortality. Any of these issues might be distressing and cause significant upset. Therapy can help by giving you the space to discuss highly charged information and help you to manage these emotions constructively

When someone is first diagnosed it can feel like a soup of emotions. Many people will move through the stages of loss; denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Often this process is not linear and people will move back and forth through the stages. Adjustment is a process that takes time as a new 'normal' life is formed. There may also be changes to the person's physical appearance due to treatment which the person may need assistance with managing. Even after cancer treatment has finished some people can find themselves worrying excessively about whether the cancer will come back.

Our team of clinical psychologists can help you at any stage of your cancer journey from adjusting to diagnosis, undergoing treatment, getting back to life after cancer or learning to live with cancer as a long term condition.

Signs and symptoms of adjustment difficulties

Symptoms vary between individuals, but they usually include:

  • Struggling to cope with emotions
  • Feeling tearful
  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Feeling tired
  • Excessive worry about the future
  • Anxiety
  • Problems sleeping

What type of therapy can help?

Therapy can help people with cancer by supporting their adjustment to diagnosis, preparing them for treatment or giving the space to talk about difficult thoughts and feelings. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is helpful in identifying thinking errors for example all or nothing thinking, selective attention or negative predictions. Mindfulness based therapies helps the person to be more in the present moment rather than worrying about the future.

Therapies which have been found to help increase coping with cancer include:

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