- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Facing end of life
- Common questions about dying
- What if I feel distressed?
What if I feel distressed?
If you are feeling depressed or a sense of helplessness, or if you have pain, breathlessness or other symptoms that are not well controlled, you may become distressed.
Pain and depression can almost always be treated, and help is generally available for other symptoms. It is important that you talk to your doctor or nurse about any physical or emotional symptoms that are causing you pain or distress, and find ways to make your final days more comfortable.
Sometimes a person with cancer may become so distressed that they wish that death would come more quickly. This might happen if they are feeling particularly ill, scared, or perhaps worried about the strain that they are putting on others.
If this is how you feel, discuss your concerns with a doctor, nurse, counsellor or social worker. If you urgently need somebody to talk to because you are very distressed or thinking about ending your life, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for free, confidential phone counselling at any time.
It’s tough for anyone to confront their own mortality, but it’s unavoidable when you get a terminal illness. Suddenly I had to start thinking about practical things like getting a will and a power of attorney. Something else that was tough to talk to my wife about was the funeral plans, but I’m glad I got it out of the way because it’s one less thing to worry about.Ian
Podcast: Living with Dying
Prof Jane Phillips, Head, School of Nursing and Professor, Centre for Healthcare Transformation, Queensland University of Technology and Emerita Professor Palliative Nursing, University of Technology Sydney, NSW; Prof Meera Agar, Palliative Care Physician, Professor of Palliative Medicine, University of Technology Sydney, IMPACCT, Sydney, NSW; Sandra Anderson, Consumer; A/Prof Megan Best, The University of Notre Dame Australia and The University of Sydney, NSW; Prof Lauren Breen, Psychologist and Discipline Lead, Psychology, Curtin University, WA; David Dawes, Manager, Spiritual Care Department, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Rob Ferguson, Consumer; Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar, Counsellor, Psychotherapist and Social Worker, One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy, NSW; Justine Hatton, Senior Social Worker, Southern Adelaide Palliative Services, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Caitlin MacDonagh, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Palliative Care, Royal North Shore Hospital, Northern Sydney Local Health District, NSW; McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer; Palliative Care Australia; Belinda Reinhold, Acting Lead Palliative Care, Cancer Council QLD; Xanthe Sansome, National Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kirsty Trebilcock, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA.
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