- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Living with advanced cancer
- The emotional impact
- Ways to manage your emotions
Ways to manage your emotions
There are some simple things that you can try to help you to cope, or feel more in control, after an advanced cancer diagnosis. Which of these strategies works best will be different for everyone, and can change depending on how you are feeling at the time.
Find out more informationUnderstanding what to expect, and being able to plan for any changes can make you feel more in control. Your oncology team (doctors, nurses and allied health practitioners) can give you information and help you to plan.
Talk about how you’re feelingIf you start to feel overwhelmed, let your general practitioner (GP) know. Counselling or medicine even for a short time – can be helpful. Your GP may be able to refer you for free or subsidised sessions to talk with a psychologist. Beyond Blue also has information about coping with depression and anxiety.
Share onlineUse email, social media or a blog to stay in touch with family and friends. You can also visit the Cancer Council Online Community to connect with others in a similar situation.
Join a support groupThere are face-to-face, internet and telephone support groups where people meet regularly to share their experiences.
Try complementary therapiesRelaxation, meditation and massage can help you to cope. Complementary therapies can lower your stress levels, ease anxiety, and improve your mood.
Enjoy the little thingsTry to focus on the small things that are still possible – like having a coffee with a friend or visiting your favourite places
Accept helpEven when your friends are genuinely willing to help, it can sometimes be hard to ask. You might want one friend or relative to coordinate offers of help and update people on how you are. Online tools can also help organise volunteers, e.g. Gather My Crew.
Draw on spiritualitySome people find meaning and comfort in their religion faith or spiritual beliefs. Others may experience spirituality in other ways, such as spending time with close family and friends or being out in nature. A cancer diagnosis can sometimes challenge your beliefs. It might help to talk about your feelings with a spiritual care practitioner (sometimes called a chaplain), religious leader or counsellor.
Podcast: Living Well with Advanced Cancer
Dr Lucy Gately, Medical Oncologist, Alfred Health and Walter and Eliza Institute for Medical Research, VIC; Dr Katherine Allsopp, Supportive and Palliative Care Specialist, Westmead Hospital, NSW; A/Prof Megan Best, The University of Notre Dame Australia and The University of Sydney, NSW; Dr Keiron Bradley, Palliative Care Consultant, Medical Director Palliative Care Program, Bethesda Health Care, WA; Craig Brewer, Consumer; Emeritus Professor Phyllis Butow, Psychologist, The University of Sydney and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Louise Durham, Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner Outpatients, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Metro South Palliative Care, QLD; Dr Roya Merie, Radiation Oncologist, ICON Cancer Centre, Concord, NSW; Penny Neller, Project Coordinator, National Palliative Care Projects, Australian Centre for Health Law Research, Queensland University of Technology, QLD; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Xanthe Sansome, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC; Sparke Helmore Lawyers; Peter Spolc, Consumer.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum
Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment