Coping with Cancer and
Life Altering Illness

Coping with cancer or any other debilitating illness evokes fear in anyone’s life, but when it happens to you or a loved one it can turn your world upside down. You enter a new realm of doctors, decisions, treatments, fears and uncertainties. You must learn to bear waiting: the waiting for tests, procedures, and the anxiety that accompanies each result. If it is you who is faced with the diagnosis, you may experience your body and mind cope in ways that you have no control. You may have to go through procedures and treatments, that exhaust or make you ill. Your life is now governed by the illness. It may be interfering with job or family life. You may find yourself feeling alone among family and friends. You may feel that others do not really understand what you are going through.

If your loved one is ill, you may be exhausted by the demands of caretaking, and by the added responsibilities your loved one is not able to fulfill. Your world becomes more isolating. The longer the illness, the more “compassion” fatigue, and feelings of hopelessness, powerlessness, and loneliness are experienced. The challenge becomes not only surviving, but thriving and finding meaning in the suffering. It means accepting and adapting one’s life to accommodate the necessary changes.

Counseling can provide a safe and supportive environment to help one go through the various stages of coping with a serious and life changing illness.