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Cancer, feelings and mental health

Having cancer brings with it many different feelings. The disease not only affects your body but also your mental wellbeing. Accepting the role of patient can be hard.

Serious illness makes people look at life from a broader perspective. The feelings of crisis created by the illness are an integral and natural part of this process. Everyone deals with their feelings in their own way.

There is no right way to relate to cancer. Your moods can vary greatly. The most usual are denial, anger, fear, anxiety, sadness, depression, guilt and loneliness.

It’s most important to confront your feelings and deal with them. You shouldn’t suppress your feelings, but boldly confront them and try to handle them. It is only then that your mental recovery can start properly.

Everyone deals with his or her feelings in their own way. Some unload them through activity, others manage best by talking about them or then by thinking them through by themselves.

Ask for help

Cancer can trigger different powerful psychological reactions, such as anxiety and depression. If such states feel insurmountable and you don’t have the capacity to manage, it’s important to seek professional help.

Often, you will find it sufficient to discuss things with a medical professional and above all with relatives or friends. You can also get help from the Cancer Society of Finland’s advice service, where professional oncology nurses assist people with cancer and their loved ones.

The CSF also trains peer support persons. Support persons are volunteers who themselves have had cancer. They help patients and their families during the different stages of the disease.

Peer support

Peer support is available by participating in activities run by regional cancer associations and patient organisations. They arrange various meetings, support groups and courses.

Looking after your own wellbeing helps you cope better with cancer and its treatment.

Cancer and wellbeing


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Suomen Syöpäpotilaat ry. Nuoren perheen selviytymisopas. Helsinki, 2002.

Suomen Syöpäpotilaat ry. Selviytyjän matkaopas. Helsinki, 2014.