Cancer Home > Coping With Your Feelings About Cancer


You have walked the tough road through the initial diagnosis, come up with a treatment plan based on your healthcare team's recommendations, and you have buckled down and fought the good fight -- and now your cancer is advanced! This is going to make you angry, and that's okay.
People often feel angry at the decline in mobility, independence, and strength. Or they are upset over the fact that they are now going to be "robbed" of time. Time they could have spent on nearly anything else is now taken up with treatments. The time they once thought they had to live their life is now going to be shortened. Time with friends and family is now more precious than ever.
Talk about this anger -- do not bottle it up! It is far healthier to release these feelings than to keep them in.

Guilt and Regrets

It's not uncommon to feel guilty after being told you have advanced cancer. Perhaps you feel like you are letting your family and friends, and even your healthcare team, down because you "let" this happen. Please understand that this is not your fault! You may feel guilty because you have to ask others for help. (And on the other end of the spectrum, friends and family members may feel guilty because they are healthy.)
The best way to deal with the guilt is to address it out in the open. Acknowledge that everyone is doing the best they can -- the person with cancer and caregivers alike. Clear the air, and you may find everyone's consciences rest easier as a result.
It's also common to feel regrets at this stage. Maybe you are thinking about the things that you will miss when you are gone. These are all totally normal, even healthy, thoughts and feelings.
Although death is likely in the near future for someone with advanced-stage cancer, that doesn't mean you should give up on all your hopes and dreams. Instead, you may have to modify them. Maybe set smaller goals for yourself, such as having a pain-free day or doing something special with a family member.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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