There are things you can do and people who can help you to cope with a diagnosis of soft tissue sarcoma.
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. 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.
How soft tissue sarcoma can affect you physically
Problems with scarring
Limb sparing surgery can be a very big operation involving cutting into a lot of tissue, bone and muscle. It may leave you with a long scar. You might have some tightness and discomfort if you have radiotherapy to the area, as this can make healthy tissues less stretchy over time.
Having major surgery and scarring can cause different problems.
Difficulty moving your limb
You will have trouble moving the affected limb to start with. But your physiotherapists will give you lots of exercises that will gradually make moving easier for you.
Changes in how you look
How you look is an important part of your self esteem. It can be very hard to accept sudden changes in your looks that you are not happy with.
It is not unusual for people who have had limb sparing surgery to feel confused and upset for some time after their operation. You may feel worried about how your friends and family see you. You may feel that you are no longer as physically attractive. Going back to work, meeting new people and going for job interviews can all be more of a struggle if you are coping with changes in your appearance.
The important thing to remember is that the people closest to you will not see you any differently as a person. Try and talk to them, they can help to support you when they know how you feel.
Changes to your appearance might affect how you feel about sex.
Relationships and sex
The physical and emotional changes you have might affect your relationships and sex life. There are things that you can do to manage this.
If you have had an amputation
It can seem to take a long time before you can move around normally again and this may make you feel very low. It can take many months before you can put a lot of weight comfortably on your false leg. And it may take a while before your limb is completely comfortable. Most people get there within a year of their surgery.
There is help and support available if you need it. Your doctor could arrange counselling for you.
Sarcoma UK provides help and support for people with bone or soft tissue sarcomas. You can call or email them in confidence.
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.
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.