Helping you Cope

A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. A diagnosis may lead to creating a whole new daily routine, which often includes lifestyle changes. A diagnosis also requires setting aside some extra time to learn about your treatment plans and options.

Remember, your health care team is here to help you adjust and adapt after diagnosis. Our social workers and psychiatrists are experts in this area and available to help you.

Intense emotions may arise for individuals living with cancer. Many people with cancer describe experiencing feelings of anxiety and/or worry. Sometimes people experience sadness. A cancer diagnosis could trigger these feelings because of:

  • Fear of treatment or treatment-related side effects
  • Fear of cancer returning or spreading after treatment
  • Uncertainty
  • Worry over losing independence
  • Concern about having relationships change
  • Concern about career and finances
  • Fear of death

It is important to talk to your health care team about these feelings, especially when they are impacting your ability to engage in activities, follow through on treatments or affecting your relationships.

If you would like to learn more about feelings and cancer, this online booklet provides more information about the emotional facts of life with cancer.

We have also compiled information to help with understanding and managing of the most common symptoms of cancer and its treatment, including anxiety and depression.

Good communication between patients, family caregivers, and the health care team is very important in cancer care. Communication is very important throughout your cancer care.

It is helpful for patients and caregivers to plan ahead for visits with their health care provider. The following may help you get the most out of these visits:

  • Bring a family member, caregiver or friend to the doctor visit so they can help you remember important information after the visit.
  • Create a special file or notebook to keep all of your medical information in one place: includes test and procedure dates, test results, and other records. Bring this file with you to your medical appointments.
  • Keep track of your medications. Make a list of the names of your medication(s), dosages, and frequency for each medication. how often they are taken. Bring this list with you to each appointment and be sure to update it each visit if any changes are made.
  • Use only trusted sources of health information, such as government and national organizations when you are researching about your diagnosis and treatment.
  • Speak with a nurse or other member of the health care team. Nurses are an integral part of your health care team and can share more information with you and your doctor.

For Each appointment:

  • Make a list of questions and concerns. List your most important questions first.
  • If you have a lot to discuss with the doctor, ask if you can:
    • Schedule a longer appointment
    • Receive answers to questions by phone or email
  • Take notes on what you discuss. Take a few minutes after an appointment to write down all that you recall and if someone attended the visit with you then ask them to do the same.

Cancer and its treatment can affect how you look and feel about yourself and your body. There are steps you can take to cope with body changes and issues related to sexuality and intimacy.

If you are helping your family member or friend through cancer treatment, you are a caregiver. Being a caregiver can be stressful, so it is important to practice self-care while caring for others. We have compiled some helpful tips for those caring for people with cancer.

Couples living with cancer often experience new stresses on their relationship. Often couples feel a sense of urgency to learn all about cancer and its treatment. A diagnosis requires couples to communicate about their individual worries and concerns, and to consider reorganizing the household responsibilities and daily tasks. It is perfectly natural for emotions to run high for either partner. Many partners experience sadness, anxiety, anger, or even hopelessness. Finding ways to navigate living with cancer together is an important part of the process. Some couples may find that facing the challenges of cancer together strengthens their relationship. But for others cancer presents new challenges or worsens existing problems. If you or your partner is having difficulty in this area, speak to your health care team is here to help.

The Canadian Cancer Society has provided some great tips for helping your partner or spouse cope with cancer.

Couples who are also parents may also be struggling to address the needs of their children or teens.

Knowing how or what to tell your children about your cancer diagnosis can differ depending on the age of your children. If you don’t know where to begin the conversation, we have some prompts as well as resources to help. Whether you are grappling with what to tell your children about your cancer diagnosis, treatment or prognosis, our social workers can help.

Here are some great resources for you:

Being a parent while living with cancer is often physically and emotionally exhausting. Oncology social workers can offer helpful strategies for communication with your children and also assist with finding options to help manage daily routines.

For some parents living with cancer, childcare support may be of concern. Talk with your social worker about assistance that may be available.

Related Topics