Cancer counselling – what’s the point? Talking about it doesn’t make cancer go away.
To some cancer counselling may look futile. To others it is an essential outlet for difficult emotions, and a place where to make sense of what is happening and exploring difficult choices.
Based in Richmond, West London, I offer specialist counselling for people affected by cancer (including family and friends) throughout all stages of the cancer experience
Cancer Counselling can help people affected by cancer to play an active part in their lives, despite (and for some because of) cancer.
The impact of cancer (whether you are the one diagnosed, family or a friend) is not just physical, but also emotional, mental, and can be financial, social, relational and spiritual.
Common cancer related emotions include fear (of treatment, life, death), loneliness, guilt, anger, loss of self confidence, irritability, stress, depression, hopelessness, relationship problems and even suicidal thoughts.
Cancer counselling can help with the often devastating emotional impact, which can stay long after treatment has finished. Cancer counselling can help you, if you have been diagnosed or treated, if you are family or a friend, or an employer with staff who have cancer.
Cancer counselling is about providing you with a safe space where to tell your story, without worry of burdening another or being judged.
At the heart of counselling or therapy is the belief that we all have the capacity to cope with difficult situations. Saying out loud in the company of another, who is neutral, listens to you with patience and compassion can cause a positive shift towards making sense, finding answers and moving on from whatever feelings that keep you stuck. Sometimes this process takes a while, sometimes it can happen fast.
Different people choose cancer counselling for different reasons and at different junctions of their journey, just like with counselling or therapy decisions during other life events. Similarly, this choice can take courage, because not everybody may find it easy or wants to talk about how cancer is affecting them.
While the cancer journey is as individual as the person who goes through it the following are some key moments, when people may opt for counselling:
During a diagnosis process and before confirmation of a cancer diagnosis: to help deal with the fears and prepare for potential scenarios.
After diagnosis: to help deal with the emotional impact, provide some grounding and help think through helpful coping strategies for what may lie ahead.
During treatment: to assist with treatment difficulties (eg needle phobia, or an aversion to intravenous chemotherapy, anxiety attacks) or treatment side effects (eg hair loss , body image issues following a mastectomy, lymphoedema, early menopause, low sex drive or impotence).
After treatment: to assist with the start of life with or beyond cancer, once a person no longer has regular medical appointments, treatments or check-ups, which can leave people feel insecure and unsure how to continue leading their working and personal lives. The emotional impact of cancer can be felt long after treatment has finished, and resurface esp around check-up times.
In case of a cancer recurrence: some people opt for counselling to deal with the impact of this news and to decide how to live the rest of their lives.
In case of terminal cancer: some people opt for counselling to help prepare for the ending of their lives.
Due to cancer diagnosis and treatment some people find themselves in the position of having to decide whether to make difficult lifestyle changes, eg change in diet and leaving out favourite foods, stopping smoking or drinking alcohol. Others are unable to continue with favourite past times, like sports or socialising. Especially where these activities or habits have become important in dealing with stress, having to abandon them can (initially) cause stress, anxiety and frustration.
Cancer treatment side effects can vary a lot and can outlast treatment, often impacting the rest of our lives: fatigue, memory problems, infertility, loss of sex drive, change in body image, weight gain or loss, pain, lymphoedema, peripheral neuropathy and more can also lead to emotional problems.
Family and friends also turn to cancer counselling, as they can also find themselves under emotional strain when most of the attention (understandably so) is on the person with cancer.
Cancer counselling can assist in processing these difficult emotions and provide support in building resilience and determination to face up to these choices.
The cancer counselling I offer can help you find the power in you to cope well with this challenge. In working with you I have five goals:
- To offer you a safe and non-judgmental space where you can say frankly what is on your mind.
- To help you understand why you might feel and think the way you do.
- To work with you on understanding what things you are good at and what has worked well for you in the past.
- Based on that to help you find ways that work well for you to stay motivated and play an active part in your life.
- To support you in making choices for your life that work for you and your well being.
I am experienced in supporting people with the emotional impact of diagnosis, treatment, dying and death, life with and beyond cancer. This can help you get back a sense of direction and what you want to do next.
In working with you I aim to be open, welcoming, flexible, transparent, pro-active and down to earth.
Contact me in confidence to see how I may be able to help, or arrange a first meeting.
My interview about the emotional impact of cancer provides some suggestions and personal experiences. Listen Here
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