Emotionally Coping with Cancer


No one expects to get a cancer diagnosis. Suddenly you have to think about things like, “How is this going to impact my family?”, “Will I be able to work during treatment?”, and “Will the cancer kill me?

In addition, you may have financial concerns or problems dealing with the medical system or insurance. With all of this stress, most patients and their loved ones experience real feelings of depression or anxiety after a diagnosis. Who wouldn’t?

Research shows that early identification of emotional distress and follow-up treatment (counseling and support services) helps everyone involved. It’s important to find help if you need it. There are organizations that can help with emotional stress from the diagnosis, insurance hassles or financial assistance, and even with getting to and from your doctor appointments if that’s a problem. See a list of organizations that offer support.

Tips to coping with cancer

  • Tell your health care team that you need help, and ask for a referral to a counselor and support services
  • Check out the Cancer Support Community or CancerCare. Both organizations have phone lines staffed with trained mental health professionals who can help you find the support and services you need.
  • Contact a social worker experienced with oncology
  • Contact the Patient Advocate Foundation for help if you need co-pay assistance or if you can’t afford medical care. They will do their best to help you through the system.
  • Join a support group, perhaps online
  • Ask your doctor about medications that can help
  • Focus on living in the moment
  • Use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing when you feel panic
  • Reach out to colorectal cancer support organizations like Fight Colorectal Cancer, Colon Cancer Alliance & more. Get a list here.

Content medically-reviewed by members of the Fight Colorectal Cancer Medical Advisory Board, February 2014