A topic that is most likely familiar to us all; usually because we’ve seen someone struggle with the illness. Did you know that every two minutes someone in the United Kingdom is diagnosed with cancer.
In the UK, there are around 363,000 new cancer cases every year, that's more than 990 every day (2014-2016). In females, there were around 178,000 new cancer cases in 2016, whilst for males, there were around 185,000 new cancer cases in 2016.
Cancer Talk Week is a chance to open up about the loneliness which can follow a cancer diagnosis and explore why it can be so difficult to talk about. Having personally seen an individual pass away from cancer and having volunteered for a year at the Help Harry Help Others Drop in Centre, this is a topic close to heart.
The drop in centre, at which I (Sumayyah Amin) volunteered, was a place for anyone affected by cancer to drop in. We had patients come in, family members and friends all come in for something as little as tea and a chat to the annual ball event. Although I say a little chat, it is often these chats which is what keeps people going, and able to battle each obstacle. Talking, as I realised from my volunteering, can have many benefits.
Conversation, though it may seem insignificant, is necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle and be able to fully engage in different thoughts and emotions. Talking can help you feel more in control, less anxious and make important decisions. Often it allows you to realise that your feelings are normal, prevents fears growing bigger and helps you feel valued and supported. This is true regardless of the topic being discussed; i.e. cancer or other.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, know that you are likely to feel a range of different emotions and this is completely normal and acceptable.
You may share some common feelings with other patients with cancer; or you may not. It’ll be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, that is, a period of time encompassing a variety of good and bad days. When there are days where you are full of questions, please be sure to ask and find answers. It can be isolating being diagnosed with a condition which nobody has experienced around you, but know that you’re not alone. It’s for reasons like this that there are drop in centres and diagnosis-focused patient groups.
It can be hard for some to talk!
You might find it uncomfortable or embarrassing to have certain thoughts but this is just a reminder for you to value your feelings and emotions. For any advancement in mental wellbeing, one must be able to understand and engage with how they feel.
Some common thoughts of patients with cancer include, ‘will I ever feel happy again?’, ‘Why has this happened to me?’, ‘People say I must be positive - am I harming myself when I feel so low?’ and so many more. Getting help and support can be helpful for not only you, but the people closest to you too.
If you are someone close to an individual who has been diagnosed with cancer, you can be experiencing just as much of an emotional rollercoaster. It’s important to not feel guilty about what you are feeling - though this can be easier said than done. You may experience shock, fear, grief, anxiety, denial, tiredness and so much more. Paying attention to your feelings is an important part of being able to support the person with cancer better.
Referring back to the week in which we are in, Cancer Talk Week, remember to always talk to someone. It can help you stop: anger building up, an overload of frustrations or sadness hurting you. Talking with someone you trust can often help you see things in a different light or gain more information and understanding. Ultimately, this allows for person development and improved wellbeing.
If you or someone you know have been diagnosed with cancer and would like to find help with coping emotionally, you can contact the Nurse Line provided by Cancer Research UK on 0808 800 4040. Alternatively click this link to open up their website > https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/coping/emotionally