A diagnosis of cancer is a devastating experience for most people.
Many people can get support by talking to close family or friends. However, it can sometimes help to talk to someone from outside of that circle who has been trained to listen and help you explore your feelings. You may feel as if you are riding an emotional rollercoaster. Often talking of your distress to those close to you can be difficult and painful.
When someone is diagnosed with cancer, they and their family can feel shocked, numb, directionless and afraid. They often feel they need to talk things through in confidence with someone who understands the emotional challenges of cancer.
How will it help me?
In our experience, many people faced with a cancer diagnosis find it very helpful to be able to talk about how they are really feeling to someone who is not trying to make them feel better.
You can talk freely without the need to "protect" those close to you for fear of upsetting them or causing them to worry.
Similarly, relatives and friends can explore their concerns and anxieties openly without needing to shield the person who is ill.
A common attitude to a cancer diagnosis is the belief that a positive attitude is imperative to fighting the cancer battle.
The battle analogy is in itself a problem in that there are winners and losers. By implication, people who lose a cancer battle were not positive enough. The positive attitude expectation does not leave room for exploring fears and anxieties or talking about losses and grief.
Counselling can give you the space to think about what it is you need to communicate and how to do that. It can help you say things that are difficult and help you to better understand your needs and how to communicate these to those who care for you.
What is counselling?
Counselling is a private and confidential meeting to explore difficulties you are having. Your counsellor will be supportive but will not give advice, or tell you what to do. It can be an opportunity to talk about painful and difficult feelings. It's a chance to talk in an open way, without being judged, or having to worry about what someone will feel about what you say. A counsellor can help you to use your own strengths to approach your problems with a clearer understanding.
Why cancer counselling?
Research shows that counselling can play a significant part in helping individuals and families face and meet the many challenges implicit in a cancer diagnosis, and so improve their quality of life.
Our clients tell us that counselling has helped them to deal better with their emotional issues. They are better able to communicate their needs with their health professional.
Counselling helps in easing the tension in relationships with family and friends. Positive but realistic outlooks replace the burden of positive expectations.
As you can imagine there are many different responses to receiving the diagnosis of cancer.
Denial & Disbelief
Withdrawal & Isolation
Body image issues
Fears associated with sexuality and intimacy
Fear and uncertainty
Any feelings you have are valid and deserve to be acknowledged, both by you and those around you.
Our clients often tell us how disempowered they feel. Cancer and its treatments seem to have taken total control of their lives.
If you think that you may die, sorting out your affairs so that things are in order and you know that friends or family will be alright can also be helpful. Although, it can be difficult and painful for both you and your family to talk about dying, it can give you all the oportunity to talk about what in life is important to you.
How to access Counselling Services
Most of the major treatment hospitals do have psycho oncology departments. Ask your Doctor about the support offered in your treatment centre.
Alternatively, you can call the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20 and be put in touch with counselling services in your area.
Cancer Counselling Professionals Inc is an association of private counsellors who provide counselling for anyone impacted by cancer, including family and friends. Our counsellors have experience and training to understand the impact of cancer and its treatments and to help you face the challenges ahead.
Our mission is to ease the emotional burden of cancer.