Conversation helps – strength and support from peers and loved ones
After a cancer diagnosis, it is normal to feel disbelief, sadness, anger and fear – everyone’s feelings will be different. The first step is to give yourself time to adjust to the situation and allow yourself to feel precisely how you are feeling.
However, handling your disease alone can be rough in the long run. Isolation is not a good idea; instead, try sharing your thoughts and experiences with others. Accept the help you are offered and reassess your roles and priorities both at home and at work.
Getting a serious illness always brings about strong feelings. This is why it is often hard to talk about cancer – even with your own spouse or a close friend.
Talking openly and honestly to your loved ones about your cancer and your feelings will pay off. It is also a good idea to tell them directly where you need help or encouragement. This will help your loved ones understand you better and know how they can best support you.
Peer support from people in a similar situation
Who could understand a person with cancer better than someone who has been through the same thing? Sharing the feelings and challenges that your diagnosis brings is easy and safe in peer support groups or with support persons. Peer support helps you find ways to live with your disease.
People who have personal experience with cancer will also have solutions to practical problems that are not easily found elsewhere. In a peer support group, it is easy to ask the others about their experiences with different treatments, pain management or what you should bring up when talking to healthcare professionals. Peer support also often reduces depression and anxiety in people with cancer.
Cancer societies and organisations usually offer support persons and peer support groups. You can also access peer support at home in internet discussion groups, where cancer is discussed from many different viewpoints.