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Coping with Cancer

A cancer diagnosis comes as a shock to most patients, and all of the doctor’s appointments and information you’re receiving can be overwhelming. It’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions before, during, and even after treatment, which is why it’s important to be armed with healthy ways to cope.

Healthy ways of coping
The cancer journey is emotionally challenging, but these coping strategies can help you navigate the ups and downs and maintain your focus on getting healthy.
  • Ask questions to help educate yourself
  • Talk freely with others and share your concerns
  • Try to maintain your sense of humor
  • Plan enjoyable activities that allow you to forget about your illness for even a short time
  • Allow cancer to help you appreciate your life as well as the people and activities you enjoy the most

Unhealthy ways of coping
Every patient deals with cancer in their own way, but unhealthy, unconstructive coping strategies are likely to do more harm than good—for yourself and those who are there to support you.
  • Turning to alcohol to calm down
  • Wishing people would leave you alone
  • Thinking you did something bad to deserve this
  • Believing that no one knows how to take care of you
  • Deciding not to fight cancer because you believe it’s your fate

If you experience anger, hopelessness, sadness, emptiness, or worry for more than 2 weeks, you should consider exploring ways to manage your distress. 1 Meditation, spiritual or religious practice, support groups, or professional help are just a few options.2 Anxiety or depression is common after being diagnosed with cancer, but these feelings can be managed. Similar to how you visit a doctor when experiencing a physical ailment, professional advice may be able to help improve emotional distress as well.

The importance of mindfulness
Mindfulness simply means acknowledging and paying attention to what is happening in the present moment. There are many ways to practice mindfulness, and what works for one person may not be effective for another. Whether you try breathing methods, guided imagery, or other practices, the goal is to relax the body and reduce stress. When you have thoughts that make you feel sad or upset, practicing mindfulness can help you cope with these feelings.3
Tips for optimizing mindfulness…
Practicing mindfulness can involve less time than you may think. Simply slowing down and breathing for just a few minutes can help. Find a quiet spot where you can be alone. Sit down, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and pay attention to your breathing. If other thoughts pop into your head, re-focus on your breath. This practice can help reduce feeling of stress and create a sense of calm within just a few minutes.


La Roche-Posay created this article with materials sourced from the American Cancer Society, a trusted leader in cancer-related information and resources. La Roche-Posay is proud to partner with the American Cancer Society to provide cancer support resources and funding to the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Program.
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