How to Deal with the Stress of Cancer


The very word wreaks havoc in the minds of those it affects — the diagnosed individuals, their loved ones, those who rely on them.

Learning that you have cancer can be a concerning experience that leads to an uncertain time for you and your family. The stress of cancer might seem overwhelming, but with the help of healthcare professionals and the support of your loved ones, you can fight this.

Surely, it won’t be easy, and it won’t be painless. But here are a few ways to combat some of the stress of cancer as you prepare your body for the battle ahead.

Get to know your diagnosis

Hold in-depth conversations with your doctor about your specific cancer. An 11-step list from The Mayo Clinic suggests obtaining as much useful information as possible, which might help you feel more in control.

If you like, bring a family member or close friend who will help you remember what your doctor shares during your first few visits.

Learn what kind of cancer you have, where it is, whether it’s spreading, if there is a cure for your kind of cancer, and how your doctor recommends treating it (and what other treatment options are available).

Additionally, be sure to ask if there are other tests or procedures needed, what benefits treatment will provide, as well as any side effects or drawbacks from the recommended treatment.

Confirm when you should call the doctor and what you can do to prevent your cancer from recurring.

You might also want to find out the likelihood of children or other family members for developing this cancer.

Treating Adjustment Disorder

When stress related to these kinds of life changes builds up, individuals are more likely to develop adjustment disorder.

Symptoms can include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, withdrawal, twitching or crying outbursts, nervousness or anxiety, or impulsive acts of behavior.

Talking through these feelings in therapy, particularly cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) can help you identify negative feelings, and change them into healthy actions.

If your family is feeling the effects of your stress and also undergoing some level of adjustment disorder, you may want to consider family therapy to explore every person’s feelings.

Stick to a healthy lifestyle

Manage stress and fatigue by including a variety of foods into your diet, getting enough rest and incorporating light exercise into your regimen. Engaging in regular exercise has been shown to increase joint flexibility, muscle strength and general conditioning, according to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.


Talk to other people who are going through or have survived cancer. Organizations such as the PA Breast Cancer Coalition offer care packages for women who have been diagnosed. Support groups through the American Cancer Society can also help to make you feel less alone and provide insight about what to expect moving forward.

Get the financial support you need

You shouldn’t have to worry about where the money will come from to cover medical expenses. If you’re experiencing high co-pays, high deductibles or do not have health insurance, you might qualify for The HealthyWoman Program or the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Program. See if you qualify.