Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology

Managing Emotions

This section provides information on the following topics:

Self-Image and Cancer

Physical, mental, and emotional changes associated with cancer and cancer treatment, and dealing with those changes.

Coping With Uncertainty

Many people with cancer face uncertainty. If you or someone you love has cancer or has had cancer, you may feel that your life is less secure or predictable than it once was or that you don’t know what the future holds. It is important to ask for support when you are feeling this way; there are many professionals available who can help.

Managing Stress

An illness such as cancer can be one of the most stressful events a person experiences. The stress of cancer and its treatment may be increased by other cancer-related stresses such as family, work, and financial concerns, as well as everyday stress that was present before the cancer diagnosis.

Coping with Anger

Anger is a common and normal response for a person living with cancer. A person with cancer may experience anger about the way the cancer diagnosis has disrupted his or her life, about the treatment and possible side effects, or about the way that family members and friends are reacting.

Anxiety

Information for patients and family members on coping with symptoms of anxiety. For more information on anxiety as a side effect of cancer or cancer treatment, visit Managing Side Effects.

Depression

Information for patients and family members on coping with symptoms of depression. For more information on depression as a side effect of cancer or cancer treatment, visit Managing Side Effects.

Fear of Treatment-Related Side Effects

As you prepare to start cancer treatment, it is normal to fear the unexpected and worry that treatment will be difficult. In fact, fearing treatment-related side effects is common after a diagnosis of cancer. However, it may help to know that preventing and controlling side effects is an important priority for your health care team. Don't be afraid to talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist to learn the facts about your situation, including which side effects you may or may not experience and what options you have for managing them. A little information can go a long way toward easing your mind and helping you prepare for what lies ahead.

Coping with Guilt

Many people living with or touched by cancer experience guilt—a feeling of blame and regret that can be difficult to acknowledge and express. Guilt often leads people to replay "what if" and "if only" scenarios in their thoughts, trying to determine what they could have done differently or how they can “right” a wrongdoing.

Grief and Loss

Information on helping a parent, child, or teenager who is grieving; coping resources for when you are grieving; grief within a cultural context; and coping with change following the death of a loved one.

Finding Support and Information

In this section, find resources for groups, organizations, and online communities that provide information for cancer support.

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