What is possibly happening emotionally to someone with cancer?

11 Feb 2022

When someone gets diagnosed with cancer, there's a good chance that they go through a rollercoaster of emotions. That can be both on the side of the cancer patient, as well as the relative's side. To better understand what might happen emotionally with a cancer patient, it might be good to read this blog post. 

Each person reacts in their own way to cancer and its treatment. It's normal to feel sad and grieve over the changes that a cancer diagnosis brings. The person's emotions and mood can change from day to day, even from hour to hour. This is normal. A person with cancer may go through any or all of the following emotions and thoughts:

  • Uncertainty
  • Anger
  • A sense of lack of control
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Guilt
  • Mood swings
  • Much stronger and more intense feelings
  • A sense of being disconnected or isolated from others
  • Loneliness
  • Resentment
  • Grief

Over time, the person may discover some changes that are good:

  • A greater sense of resilience or strength
  • Peace, or a feeling of being at ease
  • A clearer idea of their priorities in life
  • More appreciation for their quality of life and the people they care about

Cancer can be very unpredictable. Someone with cancer can feel good one day and terrible the next. Expect that they will have good days and bad days. Learning to live with uncertainty is part of learning to live with cancer, both for the patient and for the people around them.

There may be times when the uncertainty and fear cause the person with cancer to seem angry, depressed, or withdrawn. This is normal and is a part of the process of grieving what was lost to the cancer (things like health, energy, time). Over time, most people are able to adjust to the new reality in their lives and go forward. Some may need extra help from a support group or a mental health professional to learn to deal with the changes cancer has brought into their lives.

As a friend or relative, besides having all kinds of feelings yourself as well, it might be good to read our blog post 'Basic Do's and Don'ts When Someone You Know Has Cancer' to understand how to offer support as a friend or family member best. Or, when you really can't find any words (which is understandable and okay), feel free to get inspired in our webshop and buy them a supportive gift, which at the same time helps to fund groundbreaking cancer research.

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