Support for you and your loved ones
A diagnosis of cancer brings with it significant physical, practical, emotional and psychological changes for you and your loved ones. We can help you to navigate these changes by providing an objective and supportive space to discuss your thoughts and feelings. Likewise, if you are supporting someone who is living with cancer, counselling can provide a space for you to speak openly about what’s going on.
As well as helping people to navigate change, counselling can help with other aspects of living with cancer including:
- Adjustment to diagnosis, change of prognosis and coping with treatment
- Working through loss, bereavement and end of life issues
- Relaxation and mindfulness training to cope with stress
- Pain management and coping with physical symptoms
- Relationship issues
- Anxiety, fear, and phobia management
- Body image and sexuality
- Sleep difficulties
- Problem solving and decision making
- Health behaviour change (e.g. quitting smoking or dietary changes)
- General psychological coping strategies
As well as impacting a person physically, cancer can also lead to significant changes in other areas of life including:
- Emotional or psychological changes– changes in how you feel, including mood swings; worry, fear and anxiety; depression; anger; resentment; and grief
- Cognitive changes – changes in how you think about yourself, other people, and the future; loss of confidence
- Behavioural changes – changes in how you respond to situations such as withdrawing, becoming agitated with others or drinking
- Financial changes – possibly due to work changes, time off work and/or the costs associated with treatment
- Changes in social and family roles – sometimes there can be a reversal of roles, such as a teenage child taking on a caring role for a parent; or experiencing social discomfort or social withdrawal. While carers may find their role rewarding, many studies have also found a negative impact on the physical and psychological health of the carer
- Lifestyle changes – disruption to lifestyle; negative impact on ability to exercise or engage activities you previously enjoyed or valued
Each of the experiences described above are very normal reactions, but they can still be very unsettling and upsetting. Counselling can help you to to feel more equipped and supported as you face some of these changes.
A few tips for managing the psychological and emotional experience of living with cancer
- Be kind to yourself and adjust your expectations accordingly. Set yourself small goals, work on them when you feel emotionally and physically able to, and when you don’t- that’s ok!
- Reward yourself for your achievements…even getting the washing done some days will be a huge task, and that achievement deserves recognition and self praise
- Keeping a journal can help to externalise and make sense of some of your thoughts, emotions and experiences
- Consider the “bigger picture”. What is important to you? What do you value most? How can you make time for those things?
- Make time for relaxation. Try either through formal relaxation or *mindfulness* practices or informal relaxation like listening to music, reading a book or sitting in the sun
- Try to keep your body as healthy as possible- light exercise, a balanced diet, good hydration, and avoiding drugs and alcohol can all help with managing your mood
- Talk to people. Talking to family and friends can help you to feel heard and supported. Talking to people who have been through similar experiences can help you to not feel so alone in your experience.