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Fear. Uncertainty. Stress. Anger. Sadness.

You’re going to feel all these things and more. Sometimes, you may not even be able to put a name to the emotions you’re feeling. It’s okay to feel it all.

If your emotions feel confusing or out of control, these stories and tips may help you better understand and cope with what’s going on inside.

Getting used to the “new normal”

Cancer can totally change your sense of “normal.” It may impact your ability to do your job, spend time with loved ones, or go about your daily routine. It’s okay to feel frustrated by these changes, but there are ways to make this new normal easier.

Sarah, a social worker, shares what the new normal means to her and the people she works with.

“The new normal may be one thing one day and something else the next day. If you’re really thinking about it, life is often like that.”

For JB, being diagnosed with cancer felt like entering a new world. In this letter to herself, she talks about her concern that this new normal would change her relationship with her son.

“You’ll find yourself striving to squeeze 18 years of life lessons into months.”
“You’ll find yourself striving to squeeze 18 years of life lessons into months.”

Managing your emotions

There’s no right or wrong way to feel. However, finding ways to express and cope with your emotions may make it easier to get through each day.

Ric, a bladder cancer survivor, explains how he was able to cope with his emotions during his experience with cancer.

“I kept thinking of it as a journey, as a trip. You started at Point A, you travel from A to B. That’s life. Life is a journey.”

Jim Kelly, a head & neck cancer survivor and pro football Hall-of-Famer, is known for his positivity. In this letter to himself, he talks about how he kept up the fight.

“It will not be easy, and it will not be fun, but you will get through it.”

Jim Kelly, a head & neck cancer survivor and pro football Hall-of-Famer, is known for his positivity. In this letter to himself, he talks about how he kept up the fight.

“It will not be easy, and it will not be fun, but you will get through it.”

You can always follow Julia’s simple advice. It helped her get through head & neck cancer, and it should help you, too.

“Just do your best—whatever that means at the moment.”

You can always follow Julia’s simple advice. It helped her get through head & neck cancer, and it should help you, too.

“Just do your best—whatever that means at the moment.”

Pay attention to your feelings

Look out for:

  • Worry, sadness, or fear
  • Having trouble solving problems and concentrating
  • Changes in feelings about your physical appearance
  • Irritability or anger

Then, take action to manage them

  • Talk about your feelings and concerns with your doctor
  • Share any feelings and fears with your family or friends
  • Reach out to a therapist or social worker
  • Join a support group
  • Try meditating or praying to focus and keep calm
  • Write in a journal or express yourself through drawing, painting, or music

If you are feeling great now, that’s terrific. Keep these tips handy in case your feelings change.

If you are experiencing serious emotional challenges or negative thoughts, seek help right away.

Build a good support system

No one should have to go through cancer alone. Having the right support is important—and it will look different for everyone. Hear from several cancer survivors and their loved ones about how they built and maintained their unique support systems.

Ric relies on family and friends who can keep things light.

“You need somebody around you who isn’t going to remind you you’re sick; they’re going to make you laugh.”

Caregiver Perspective: When Lorraine’s son was diagnosed with cancer, she didn’t know how she was going to get through it. In this letter to herself, she talks about how she cared for him, and the extra support she felt from her family.

“Remember, you will find the strength you need by watching your son continue to embrace life as well as by watching your daughters step up to provide care and comfort to their brother.”
“Remember, you will find the strength you need by watching your son continue to embrace life as well as by watching your daughters step up to provide care and comfort to their brother.”

Don’t forget your 4-legged friends. Kathryn and Jonah rely on their dog’s unconditional love.

“Having a living animal to come home to that is completely free of judgment and is just happy you’re there is such a respite.”

Help others by sharing what’s helping you

More help from our partners
More help from our partners

CancerCare

Emotional support for everyday needs and a helping hand from organizations.

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Head and Neck Cancer Alliance

Articles, podcasts, and inspiring stories from those impacted by head and neck cancer.

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Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer

Helpful information, articles, and local chapters to join.

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Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network

Stories and support tools from those impacted by bladder cancer.

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Go2 Foundation for Lung Cancer

Peer-to-peer support, resources, and tools for coping with a lung cancer diagnosis.

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LUNGevity

Up-to-date information for people with lung cancer and caregivers.

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Lung Cancer Research Foundation

Support, community chats, and educational workshops.

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Lung Cancer Foundation of America

Podcasts, videos, and other lung cancer stories and support.

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AIM at Melanoma

Support from experts and others impacted by melanoma.

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Melanoma Research Foundation

Educational information and advocacy opportunities.

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Melanoma International Foundation

Resources and stories for those impacted by melanoma.

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Melanoma Research Alliance

Tips and resources for those impacted by melanoma.

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Savor Health

The latest scientific information and healthy eating tips by cancer type.

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National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship

Resources and support for cancer survivors.

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National Kidney Foundation

Inspirational stories from people impacted by kidney cancer and other resources.

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Kidney Cancer Association

Helpful tools, information, and resources.

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Living Beyond Breast Cancer

Tailored content for every stage of the breast cancer journey.

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Susan G. Komen

The latest info on living with breast cancer.

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Breastcancer.org

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