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Cancer Support: Dealing With Emotions and Fears

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Cancer Support: Dealing With Emotions and Fears


When you have cancer, you may have a lot of different feelings, like anger, sadness, and fear. And your feelings can change from day to day, and even moment to moment. Most people who have cancer deal with feelings like this.

Although it may be hard at first, look for things each day that help you find a new sense of purpose and meaning. You may find that you appreciate even more things in your life like family or good friends. Keep looking for small things that help you feel at peace. Here are some examples of things that may help you cope with your emotions. Maybe you'll see one or two ideas you'd like to try.

  • Start a journal.

    Writing about things that bother you may help you deal with your feelings.

  • Let your feelings out.

    Talk, laugh, cry, and express anger when you need to.

  • Get support.

    You can find support from the people around you. Your friends, family, a counselor, a support group, or a spiritual adviser can help you.

    If you think you are depressed, talk to your doctor about getting treatment. Treatment can help you to feel better and focus on taking good care of yourself.

  • Exercise.

    Walking and other activities, such as yoga, tai chi, or qi gong, can help release pent-up emotions.

  • Try guided imagery.

    This means using your imagination to take you to a calm, peaceful place. Imagining yourself in a peaceful setting can help you relax and ease stress. You can do guided imagery on your own. Or you can do it with audio recordings, an instructor, or scripts to lead you through the process.

  • Do something you enjoy.

    Read or work on a hobby.

  • Practice gratitude.

    Being thankful is linked to well-being. It can boost the inner strength that helps you bounce back. It shifts your attention to the positive things in your life. It can help you appreciate what's important to you.

Building resilience

Here are some tips for building resilience.

  • Accept that things change.
    • View change as a challenge rather than a threat.
    • Examine how and why you feel the way you do when things change.
    • Expect things to work out. You can't change what happens, but you can change how you feel about it.
  • See the big picture.

    Difficult experiences can teach you about yourself.

    • Look for things to learn. Look to the future, and ask yourself how the stressful event might help you.
  • Seek out people who make you feel better.

    Develop a strong support network. Build relationships that are solid and loving with your family and friends. Help them, and let them help you.

  • Believe in yourself.
    • Do things to gain self-confidence and build self-esteem. For example, list the things you've achieved in your life or that make you proud.
    • Look at all aspects of a problem, and brainstorm solutions. Ask friends for suggestions.
  • Take good care of yourself.
    • Do things that you enjoy. See a movie. Have a good meal. Know what's important to you.
    • Relax your mind and body through techniques such as deep breathing and guided imagery. You can use online videos, books, or a teacher to guide you.
    • Talk about how you are feeling, and manage your emotions.
    • Be thankful for the good you see around you.

Where to learn more

Ask your doctors to suggest good sources for cancer information. They may have information for you or may recommend trustworthy websites. And many hospitals have medical libraries that are open to the public.

A number of national organizations have websites you can trust. They include:

  • The American Cancer Society (ACS) at
  • The National Cancer Institute (NCI) at
  • The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) at
  • The Patient Advocate Foundation at


Current as of: June 24, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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