Coping with cancer

What is Cancer?

Cancer is a condition where cells in a specific part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably. The cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs.

There are over 200 different types of cancer that can cause many different symptoms. 1 in 2 people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. In the UK, the 4 most common types of cancer are:

1 in 2 of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime. As treatment and care improves more people are living with and beyond cancer.

What are the symptoms?

Sometimes symptoms are linked to certain cancer types. But signs can also be more general, including weight loss, tiredness (fatigue) or unexplained pain - find out more here.

Cancer has an impact on all aspects of a person’s health and wellbeing but there are ways to manage this and look after yourself.


Money worries

Being unable to work may mean a drop in income at the same time as increased expenses, so here are some tips:

  • Assessing your finances can help you plan ahead so you can meet your outgoings. The ‘understanding your money’ tool on our website can help you with this
  • Speak to your HR Department or manager to find out what support your company can give you, such as flexible working. You may also qualify for statutory sick pay from the Government. You can find out more about cancer and work here
  • You may be able to claim state benefits. To find out what is available, you can use a benefits calculator or talk to us


Looking after your mental health 

Discovering you have cancer is a shock. It’s likely to be a scary and upsetting experience, so it’s important to let yourself experience any feelings you have.

  • Cry and express your emotions if you need to. If you feel angry, find a safe way to release this, such as using a stress relief toy, breathing exercises, hitting a pillow, exercising (if you can) or writing down how you feel. You can find out more about managing your mood here
  • Relaxation techniques such as mindfulness can help when you’re feeling stressed or worried. Find out more here
  • Although talking about your feelings can be hard, it can help to find someone you trust to confide in. Spend time with people who are caring and supportive
  • Sometimes it’s other people’s reactions that can make you feel uncomfortable. Macmillan has some useful advice on managing other people’s reactions
  • Some people find that talking to other people in a similar position also helps. There are online support groups available through Macmillan and Cancer Research as well as other cancer support organisations
  • You can sign up free to our digital mental health platform, SilverCloud, for 24/7 online support or talk to us
  • For more advice, visit Macmillan Cancer Support
  • If you have advanced or terminal cancer, this will understandably be distressing. You can find advice on coping with this through Cancer Research UK


Looking after your physical health

Cancer affects everyone differently, and the side effects you experience will depend on the type you have and the treatment you receive. You can find out more information through:

It’s also important to look after yourself physically:

  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Try to get enough sleep and rest. Keep activities short and try not to cram in too much
  • Try to build up your strength and stamina gradually, set yourself small goals and reward yourself when you achieve them.
  • If you are able, try to do some light exercise
  • Be gentle with yourself
  • Boost your confidence by doing activities that make you feel good
  • Practice self-care by doing things that make you feel relaxed and happy


If you feel like you can’t cope or you need someone to talk to, talk to us. Call us free on 08081 311 333 or chat with us online. We're here for you.

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