The Hidden Side of Cancer
Published: 13 Feb 2017
When you’re diagnosed with cancer, a lot of information is thrown at you in a relatively short space of time – from the details of your diagnosis, to the treatment options available to you. Doctors, nurses, family and friends go to great lengths to understand the illness you are suffering, and the best way to fight the disease.
However, cancer isn’t just a battle for your body – it’s a psychological fight, too – and this is often forgotten among all the medical talk. In truth, there’s a hidden side to cancer, and that’s the toll it can take on your mental and emotional wellness.
If you’re currently fighting cancer, you will already be well aware of this, but your support team may not. Therefore, it’s worth opening up to them about some of the non-treatment troubles that keep you up at night.
Hidden worry #1: Money
Cancer treatments can be disruptive to your life, and they can also impact your ability to earn a living. Even if you have income protection insurance to cover your bills in the event of illness, this doesn’t always allow the lifestyle you were accustomed to before your diagnosis.
Talk to your friends and family about your money worries, and see if they can help you get your finances in better shape. Even something as simple as getting a loved one to create a monthly budget sheet can help you feel like you’ve got greater control over the situation.
Hidden worry #2: Health
Undergoing cancer treatment is going to give your immune system a bashing, and there will be times when you just don’t have the energy to look after yourself properly. However, diet and exercise are really important when it comes to fuelling your body in the right way to fight disease.
Don’t be afraid to ask your support team for help with staying healthy. Get them to pick up some essential grocery on your behalf, or to cook you a big batch of soup that you can freeze for later. Alternatively, ask them to spare half an hour for a walk round the block, to ensure you get a blast of fresh air and feel a little more human on those difficult days.
Hidden worry #3: Mental wellbeing
Sometimes the hardest fight comes when you’re lying awake at night, and your thoughts running wild in the darkness. Am I neglecting my loved ones? What if I don’t get better? Who will look after my family if I’m not well enough?
Being scared is totally normal, but many cancer sufferers worry about burdening friends and family with their emotional concerns. Even if you’re in a relationship, or live at home with family, you might be afraid to put the weight of your worries onto one person’s shoulders.
It’s vital that you address the mental strain that fighting cancer places on you, as well as the physical one. If you don’t feel able to open up to your loved ones, counselling is a really effective way to share your fears in a safe, confidential environment.
Many oncology units now offer a counselling on psychotherapy service as part of their treatment facilities. However, if this is not available to you, then visit your local doctor for advice.
How have you overcome your own hidden worries? Share your coping strategies in ourChemotherapy support Facebook group.