Emotions and cancer

A guide for people with cancer, their families/whānau and friends

This information discusses the emotional effects of cancer. Everyone with cancer copes in their own way. The diagnosis may cause you to feel a range of strong emotions such as fear, anger, denial, sadness, guilt, loneliness, uncertainty, and hope. These are all natural reactions.

This information provides practical suggestions about how to talk to others about cancer, treatment and how you’re feeling. The information begins by explaining the common emotions you may feel. People often say that understanding what they may be feeling helps them cope better. A cancer diagnosis will affect relationships with family/whānau, and friends and each person has their own way of coping. You’ll find some suggestions for working together to adjust to these changes. There is also information included for people caring for someone with cancer and the emotions they may feel.

The emotional effects of cancer can continue or begin long after treatment. It is common for people to feel anxious about minor signs of illness or pain, worrying that the cancer might come back. This information explores some of these emotions. You don’t need to read this information from start to end – just read the parts that are useful to you. You may find it helpful to go back to parts at different times.

“Cancer turned my world up-side-down.” Ross