Coping with your diagnosis

For many people, a cancer diagnosis can be a life changing event. It is natural to experience many different thoughts and feelings. Some people feel upset, shocked or anxious, while others feel angry, guilty or alone. There is no right way for you to feel.

These feelings might last a long time, or may quickly pass. The important thing is to find a way that helps you cope, we have some information below we hope you might find helpful. We also have information on practical considerations such as work, financial support and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.


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Practical considerations

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Coping with your diagnosis


Often talking to someone can help, whether this be someone close to you, your doctor or local support groups. Local support groups can be helpful as you are talking with people who understand your situation and are going through something similar. You are not alone in this, soon it is thought 1 in 2 people will have cancer in their lifetime.

Click here for support and discussion networks.

Asking for help

If you are having continued feelings of sadness, have trouble getting up in the morning or have lost motivation to do things that previously gave you pleasure, you might be experiencing depression.

Depression is not a sign of failure or an inability to cope. Depression can be common with cancer diagnoses, and can often be treated successfully. There are both medical and non-medical approaches to managing depression.

Your doctor or psychiatrist will be able to help. Although it may seem hard, help is there for you.

If you are having some of these thoughts or feelings you can call the Samaritans’ 24-hour confidential helpline: 116 123.

For more information on coping with cancer we can recommend the Macmillan website, where there is a lot of helpful information. Click here.

Relationships with others

Cancer can affect your relationships with family, friends and colleagues. Give yourself time to adjust to what’s happening, and do the same for others.

People may deal with the cancer in different ways, for example by being overly positive, playing down fears, or keeping a distance. It can be helpful to be open with partners, friends, and family about how you are feeling.

Even though talking about this may be difficult, it helps to know how each other are feeling to understand how best to cope and support each other with what is happening.

Practical considerations


Cancer can affect your work and you may need some time off due to treatments or symptoms (such as fatigue). If you feel your work will be affected, talk to your manager or HR (human resources) officer as early as possible.

In the UK you are covered by legalisation that protects your rights at work. If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, the Equality Act 2010, and for Northern Ireland, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) (as amended) protects you, even if you are self-employed or a carer.

It may be helpful to discuss with your doctor whether your treatments will affect your ability to work. For more information and help click here.

Finances and financial support

Having cancer may have an impact on your financial situation, especially if you are unable to work. It could be helpful to speak to a hospital or community social worker, or contact Citizens Advice, who can advise you about your financial situation, advise on what benefits may be available and suggest the next steps.

Macmillan Cancer Support also provide financial advice. For more information click here or you call them on: 0808 808 00 00.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

The fitter and healthier you are, the more likely it is that you will be able to cope with and recover from the treatments you are given. You can have an influence: