You might have a number of different feelings when you're told you have cancer. You may feel shocked and upset. You might also feel:
- frightened and uncertain
- angry and resentful
You may have some or all of these feelings. Or you might feel totally different. Everyone reacts in their own way. Sometimes it's hard to take in the fact that you have cancer at all.
Experiencing different feelings is a natural part of coming to terms with cancer. All sorts of feelings are likely to come and go.
You may be more able to cope and make decisions if you have information about your type of cancer and its treatment. Information helps you to know what to expect.
Taking in information can be difficult, especially when you have just been diagnosed. Make a list of questions before you see your doctor. Take someone with you to remind you what you want to ask. They can also help you to remember the information that was given. Getting a lot of new information can feel overwhelming.
Ask your doctors and nurses to explain things again if you need them to.
Remember that you don’t have to sort everything out at once. It might take some time to deal with each issue. Ask for help if you need it.
Talking to other people
Talking to your friends and relatives about your cancer can help and support you. But some people are scared of the emotions this could bring up and won’t want to talk. They might worry that you won't be able to cope with your situation.
It can strain relationships if your family or friends don't want to talk. But talking can help increase trust and support between you and them.
Help your family and friends by letting them know if you would like to talk about what’s happening and how you feel.
You might find it easier to talk to someone outside your own friends and family. We have cancer information nurses you can call on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Or you may prefer to see a counsellor.
Specialist nurses can help you if you’re finding it difficult to cope or if you have any problems. They can get you the help you need. They can also give you information.
NHS website has a service that tells you about local information and support.
Cervical cancer and its treatment can cause physical problems that may affect how you feel about yourself.
Your treatment may mean that you can no longer become pregnant. This can be very difficult to cope with if you were hoping to have children in the future. Even if you had already been through the menopause, having surgery to remove your womb can still be very upsetting.
Your doctor will talk to you about how treatment may affect your fertility and what the options are. It might be possible to store your eggs or embryos before treatment starts.
If you haven't already been through the menopause and you have an operation that includes removing your ovaries, you will have an early menopause. This can cause hot flushes and sweats. Your nurse will talk to you about how to cope with the symptoms.
Some treatments may cause tiredness. Resting but also doing some gentle physical activity can help.
You usually get back to normal energy levels between 6 and 12 months after treatment. But up to a third of women with cervical cancer complain of tiredness 2 years after treatment.
The physical and emotional changes you have might affect your relationships and sex life. There are things that you can do to manage this.
You and your family might need to cope with practical things including:
- money matters
- financial support, such as benefits, sick pay and grants
- work issues
Talk to your doctor or specialist nurse to find out who can help. Getting help early with these things can mean that they don’t become a big issue later.
Our coping practically section has more information about all these issues.