Find out what you can do, who can help and about how to cope with a diagnosis of oesophageal cancer.
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.
Feelings are 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 and help remember the answers.
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.
Who can help
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.
Dietitians can help you with any eating problems you have. These might include difficulty eating or swallowing.
Support groups, such as the Oesophageal Patients Association (OPA) offer information and support. Website: http://www.opa.org.uk/ Tel: 0121 704 9860
Oesophageal cancer and its treatments are likely to cause physical changes in your body. These might affect the way you feel about yourself.
Changes such as weight and hair loss can affect your self esteem and the way you relate to other people. Your dietitian can help you maintain your weight and your nurse can help you look at ways to cope with hair loss.
Tiredness and feeling lethargic a lot of the time is common during treatment and for some months afterwards. Resting but also doing some gentle physical activity can help.
Oesophageal cancer and its treatment can make it more difficult for you to eat and swallow.
Relationships and sex
The physical changes you have might affect your relationships and sex life. There are things that you can do to manage this.
Practical things you and your family might need to cope with include:
- 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.