When you are first diagnosed with cancer, and throughout the different stages of your treatment and recovery, it is normal to experience a range of emotions, such as fear, sadness, anxiety, anger and frustration. If sadness or anxiety is ongoing or severe, talk to your doctor. It may help to talk about your feelings. Your partner, family members and friends can be a good source of support, or you might prefer to talk to:
- members of your treatment team
- a counsellor, social worker or psychologist
- your religious or spiritual adviser
- a support group
- Cancer Council 13 11 20 Information and Support
If you need assistance, such as help around the house, it may be hard to tell people what would be useful. Some people prefer to ask a family member or friend to coordinate offers of help. You may find that while some people you know are supportive, others may not even know what to say to you. This can be difficult, and it may make you feel lonely.
Practical and financial help
A serious illness often causes practical and financial difficulties. This can add to the stress and anxiety you may already be feeling about having cancer and going through treatment. Many services are available to help so you don’t have to face these difficulties alone:
- Financial assistance, through benefits and pensions, can help pay for prescription medicines and travel to medical appointments.
- Home nursing care is available through community nursing services or local palliative care services.
- Meals on Wheels, home care services, aids and appliances can make life easier.
- Talk to the hospital social worker, occupational therapist or physiotherapist
- Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 Information and Support
Understanding Cancer program
If you want to find out more about cancer and how to cope with it, you may find Cancer Council’s Understanding Cancer program helpful. The program offers practical information and discussions about many issues people experience after diagnosis. Topics covered include: what cancer is, cancer symptoms and side effects, treatment, palliative care, diet, exercise and complementary therapies.
Talk to someone who’s been there
Getting in touch with other people who have been through a similar experience can be beneficial. There are many ways to contact others for mutual support and to share information. In these support settings, most people feel they can speak openly, share tips with others, and just be themselves. You will probably find that you feel comfortable talking about your diagnosis and treatment, your relationships with friends and family, and your hopes and fears about the future. More information
- Ask your nurse or social worker to tell you about support groups in your area
- Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 Information and Support to join Cancer Council Connect, a program that matches you with a volunteer who has been through a similar cancer experience
- Join a telephone support group
- Visit Cancer Council Online Community
Caring for someone with cancer
You may be reading this booklet because you are caring for someone with cancer. Being a carer can be very stressful. Try to look after yourself – give yourself some time out and share your worries and concerns with somebody neutral such as a counsellor or your doctor. Many cancer support groups are open to carers as well as people with cancer. A support group can offer a valuable opportunity to share experiences and ways of coping. Support services such as Home Help, Meals on Wheels or visiting nurses can help you in your caring role. There are also many organisations and groups that can provide you with information and support, such as Carers NSW. To contact Carers NSW, call 1800 242 636.