The physical health outcomes for cancer treatment have improved enormously over recent decades. Treatment is often curative and for others, the cancer is increasingly being managed as a chronic condition alongside a rich and fulfilling life.
Often, however, the psychological effects of cancer diagnosis and treatment can persist long after the physical treatments have ended. This may leave you with difficult feelings and you feel you would benefit from support in managing difficult feelings following treatment.
Improved psychological wellbeing is not equivalent to the absence or management of psychological difficulties. Improving psychological wellbeing involves an active process of not only managing difficult feelings but also actively enhancing your sense of wellbeing in the long term.
Some people who experience psychological difficulties following cancer treatment are at risk of developing longer term issues or mental health difficulties.
Research shows that without support, some psychological difficulties can influence a person’s quality of life, engagement with treatment, lifestyle choices and may lead to significant mental health difficulties.
There are a range of approaches that research has found can be helpful with managing psychological difficulties following cancer. Some of these approaches include peer support groups, support from cancer related charities, additional support from healthcare professionals involved in your care, as well as psychological therapy or counselling.
You are the expert in managing your own feelings and knowing whether you would benefit from support. The approaches outlined above and the resources below may be a source of support if you are finding it difficult to manage your feelings or if you are feeling stuck.
Everyone’s emotional response following cancer is different. There is no right or wrong way to “be” following cancer treatment and it is all individual.
Some people may struggle with difficulties outlined above, whereas others may not. Research has shown that some people find that having had an experience of cancer has enriched their life. For example, some people report having enhanced self-esteem, greater life appreciation, a greater sense of the meaning of life, heightened spirituality, and greater feelings of peacefulness and purposefulness. No two cancer journeys are the same and therefore no one’s emotional journey will be the same either: It’s all individual.
You might notice swinging between positive and difficult feelings following your treatment, as shown in the diagram. You may find the scales swing between wellbeing enhancement and wellbeing difficulties depending on where you are in your cancer journey at any given time. It is common and understandable to have set backs.
However, it is important to have ways of managing your psychological wellbeing to help tip the balance and manage your wellbeing in the long-term.
The advice on these pages is designed to help you prepare for the treatment ahead and support you through to recovery.
If you need further advice and support please discuss this with your key worker or healthcare professional.