Fear, anxiety and depression are common to many people with cancer and are entirely normal. This may be in addition to how you feel physically.
Some people find it helps to gather information about their disease and treatment because this lessens the fear of the unknown. Find out as much as you want to know and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your emotional wellbeing is as important as your physical health.
Loss of memory and concentration
Loss of memory and concentration may be side effects of chemotherapy and usually resolve soon after treatment has finished. This can affect your ability to listen and remember things which are explained at your treatment visits. Don’t feel embarrassed to ask for information to be repeated as often as you need it. You may find this affects your ability to work during treatment if your job involves a great deal of mental effort.
You may find it helpful to bring a friend, partner or relative to hospital visits, and to make a note of any questions you have beforehand. The doctors and nurses caring for you will be happy for you to do this.
Open and honest discussion
Talking with an understanding friend, relative, another patient or an organisation offering information or support may be helpful.
Many people don't understand about cancer or its treatment and may avoid you because they’re not sure what to say or how to help. Try to be open in talking with others about your illness, treatment, needs and feelings.
You might like to try new methods to help you cope with treatment and its side effects, such as meditation, relaxation exercises, distraction, visualisation (imagery) or hypnosis. You may want to ask what is available within the hospital or locally in the community.
Remember, everyone needs some support during difficult times. Please don't hesitate to ask for help from your doctor or chemotherapy nurse during or after your treatment. They are keen to make sure you get the support you need.
Help during your treatment
Some people may experience problems as a result of their cancer and/or treatment that have an effect on different areas of their life. There is a wide range of services available to help you recover and lead an active and productive life.
Some services can help you with physical difficulties, for example, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. They may be able to teach you new ways of doing certain activities or help you achieve and maintain independence in other areas of your daily life.
If you are finding it difficult to eat well, dietitians can provide advice whether it is during or after treatment. You can also watch our video guides about how to manage nausea or constipation during chemotherapy treatment.
Other services may be able to help you cope with social and emotional worries, for example social workers. They are experienced in working with people who have to adjust to change or crisis in their lives. A social worker can discuss with you any help you may need at home and give you information and advice on welfare benefits and coping with financial difficulties.
Help after your treatment
Once your chemotherapy treatment has finished, most side effects gradually disappear. Everyone is an individual and will recover in their own time. You may find that it takes a while for your energy levels to recover. You may also find that it will take some time for your emotions to settle down.
As well as feeling relieved that your chemotherapy has finished, you may miss the close support of the hospital you had during treatment. You will be given an appointment for a follow-up check. Make sure you know who to contact if you have any problems or concerns before your appointment.
Royal Marsden Macmillan Hotline
This service provides specialist advice and support to all Royal Marsden patients during and after their treatment, along with their carers, and hospital and community-based doctors and nurses caring for Royal Marsden patients. You can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 020 8915 6899.