Sharing Your Feelings About Cancer
and Family Have Feelings About Your Cancer
Good Time to Talk
to Be Cheerful
Up: Sharing Your Thoughts and Feelings About Cancer
Talking about your feelings can help you deal with your cancer.
- Choose a good
- Choose a good time to
share your feelings.
- Understand your
feelings of anger.
- Don't act cheerful
when you don't feel that way.
You may need to find
someone outside your family to talk to.
Cancer is too much to
handle all by yourself.
Just as you have strong
feelings about cancer, your family or friends will react to it as well. For
instance, your friends or family may:
- hide or deny their sad
- find someone to blame for
- change the subject when
someone talks about cancer
- act mad for no real reason
- make jokes about cancer
- pretend to be cheerful all
- avoid talking about your
- stay away from you, or
keep their visits short
It can be hard to talk about
how it feels to have cancer. But talking can help, even though it is hard to
do. Many people find that they feel better when they share their thoughts and
feelings with their close family and friends.
Friends and family members
may not always know what to say to you. Sometimes they can help by just being
good listeners. They don't always need to give you advice or tell you what
they think. They simply need to show that they care and are concerned about
You might find it
helpful to talk about your feelings with people who are not family or friends.
Instead, you might want to meet in a support group with others who have cancer
or talk with a counselor. You can find more information about where to go for
help in "People Helping People".
single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle.|
Some people need time before
they can talk about their feelings. If you are not ready, you might say, "I
don't feel like talking about my cancer right now." And sometimes when you
want to talk, your family and friends may not be ready to listen.
It is hard for other people
to know when to talk about cancer. Sometimes people send a signal when they
want to talk. They might:
- bring up the subject of
- talk about things that
have to do with cancer, such as a newspaper story about a new cancer
treatment that they just read
- spend more time with you
- act nervous or make jokes
that aren't very funny
You can help people feel more
comfortable by asking them what they think or how they feel. Sometimes people
can't put their feelings into words. Sometimes, they just want to hug each
other or cry together. A man with stomach cancer said,
was really hard to get my sister to talk about my cancer. Finally, I just said
to her, 'I know you're really worried and scared. So am I. Let's talk about
it.' She was so relieved that I had brought the subject up."
Many people feel angry or
frustrated when they deal with cancer. You might find that you get mad or
upset with the people you depend on. You may get upset with small things that
never bothered you before.
People can't always express
their feelings. Anger sometimes shows up as actions instead of words. You may
find that you yell a lot at the kids or the dog. You might slam doors.
Try to figure out why you are
angry. Maybe you are afraid of the cancer or are worried about money. You
might even be angry about your treatment. A man with advanced cancer said,
so angry some days that I just wanted to take it out on something. On those
days, I always tried to be angry at my cancer, not at my wife and daughter."
When anger rises, think of the consequences. |
Some people pretend to be
cheerful, even when they are not. They think that they will not feel sad or
angry when they act cheerful. Your family and friends may not want to upset
you and will act as if nothing is bothering them. You may think that by being
cheerful, your cancer will go away.
When you have cancer, you
have many reasons to be upset. "Down days" are to be expected. Don't pretend
to be cheerful when you're not. This can keep you from getting the help you
need. Be honest and talk about all your feelings, not just the cheerful ones.
An older woman with liver cancer said,
advice of well-meaning friends to be positive, optimistic, and upbeat can also
be a call for silence. Ask them about it. Don't let them force you to put on a
fake smile when that's the last thing you feel like doing."
For many, it's hard to talk
about being sick. Others feel that cancer is a personal or private matter and
find it hard to talk openly about it. If talking is hard for you, think about
other ways to share your feelings. For instance, you may find it helpful to
write about your feelings. This might be a good time to start a journal or
diary if you don't already have one. Writing about your feelings is a good way
to sort through them and a good way to begin to deal with them. All you need
to get started is something to write with and something to write on.
Journals can be personal or
shared. People can use a journal as a way of 'talking' to each other. If you
find it hard to talk to someone near to you about your cancer try starting a
shared journal. Leave a booklet or pad in a private place that both of you
select. When you need to share, write in it and return it to the private
place. Your loved one will do the same. Both of you will be able to know how
the other is feeling without having to speak aloud.
If you have e-mail, this can
also be a good way to share without talking.
Cancer is hard to deal with
all alone. Although talking about your cancer can be hard at first, most
people find that sharing their thoughts and feelings helps them deal with
Keep in mind:
- Choose a good listener.
You may not need someone to give you advice or tell you what to do. Instead,
you may want someone who wants to hear about and try to understand what life
is like for you right now. You may need to look outside your family to find
such a person.
- Choose a good time to
share. Sometimes people will send signals to let you know they are
willing to talk about cancer with you. Sometimes you can ask others about
their thoughts and feelings.
- Understand anger.
Sometimes angry words come from emotions other than anger, like frustration,
worry, or sadness. Try to figure out why you feel angry and why you need to
express it. Don't run away from these feelings--share them and try to
- Don't pretend to be
cheerful. You may want to spare those around you from your strong
feelings, but acting cheerful will not help you express your true feelings.
Acting cheerful will not give others a true picture of your thoughts and
- Turn to community
resources for help. A support group or a counselor might be able to
provide more support.