Being diagnosed with cancer can send you into a tailspin, as your life suddenly goes out of control and you are faced with making rapid decisions about treatment choices and procedures you previously may not have even know existed.

Anger, helplessness, confusion, guilt, fear and sadness can all make regular appearances in your life, sometimes all happening at the same time. Suddenly you may lie awake at night going through the ‘what ifs…’ about your future, as you acknowledge your mortality, often for the first time. Supporting someone who has been diagnosed can be equally distressing and stressful and carers often feel helpless, not knowing how they can best help their family member or friend get through, because they may feel vulnerable and unsure themselves.

Studies show those who receive counselling show improvement in emotional adjustment and overall quality of life, for both the person diagnosed and their support people (Boulton et al. 2001). People often find it a relief to be able to speak to ‘a stranger’ about their fears and feelings, not wanting to burden their family and friends. A skilled counsellor can help clients understand their emotional responses, analyse their fears, explore new ways of interacting with their support people and ‘normalise’ their feelings and responses. Through this exploration, clients are sometimes able to regain a sense of control over their lives. Carers often feel relief at discussing their own feelings and fears with someone who will not judge them, with whom they don’t have to play ‘the strong one’, while inside feeling fragile and helpless.

The Cancer Care Centre offers counselling to members. Why not come in for a session (the first one is free) and give yourself an opportunity to benefit from this service.

Reference: Boulton M et al. 2001, ‘Dividing the desolation’: Clients views on the benefits of a cancer counselling service’, Psycho-Oncology, vol. 10, pp. 124-136.