Our guide to coping with your emotions

There’s no right way to feel with cancer. There’ll be times when you feel low, and the last thing you want to do is put on a ‘happy face’. It’s hard to stay positive all the time. We’ve been there. We hope this guide to coping with your emotions helps you.

Emily, Hinna, Jamie & Leanne


Ask your hospital or GP for psychological support so you can talk things through. Your workplace or university may also be able to refer you for counselling.

Talking to somebody about why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling was the biggest help. It gave me a lot of practical tools I use in my day-to-day life.


Keep in touch with friends

Even if you’re not feeling great, force yourself to see people because it’s so important to have that contact, even if it’s just a text or a Facebook post.

Sometimes you get into really bad ruts where you don’t want to see people, but sometimes you’re feeling like that because you haven’t seen anyone.


Do things you love

This could be things you used to enjoy that you’re ready to get back to, or new things you’ve always wanted to try.

I play netball with the nuttiest but most supportive group of girls. An hour on the pitch letting out any anger does me the world of good.


Meet people your age who’ve had cancer

A few charities organise events and activities where young adults who’ve been diagnosed with cancer can meet up.

When I’d been in remission for a year, it was nice to meet someone five years in remission who’s got a life.


Create an uplifting playlist

You might find that music can help you get in the right mood to face the day.

I used to have a wall of my favourite lyrics printed out. It was comforting.


Binge watch your favourite shows or listen to podcasts

If treatment makes you tired it’s good to have things to do that don’t need much energy but keep your mind occupied.

I’d just listen to podcasts. When I was in hospital, they were a link to the outside world.


Write it all down

It can help you deal with stuff if you write it all down. If you’re happy for other people to read it, turn it into a blog.

My blog started as just a diary, but I’ve had people message me saying that reading it has helped them get out of bed in the morning.


Try mindfulness

This is about the positive effects of paying more attention to the present moment. There are loads of apps you can use if you want to try it – just google mindfulness.

When I’m feeling a bit anxious or overwhelmed, I find a quiet place to do my breathing.


Join an online forum

Forums make it easy to connect with other people with cancer, whatever stage you’re at with your treatment.

Everyone on the Blood Cancer UK forum is so supportive and people will always respond.


Schedule “me” time

Having things to look forward to can help you get through the bad days.

It’s important to make new memories that don’t have anything to do with cancer.


Where to get emotional support

Blood Cancer UK

Call our Support Services Team on 0808 2080 888 (Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri, 10am-4pm; Wed 10am-1pm), or email support@bloodcancer.org.uk


To connect with people who’re going through similar things, join the Blood Cancer UK online community forum

NHS Services

In England, IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) is part of the NHS’s initiative to make it easier to get treatment if you’re struggling with your mental health. You can refer yourself to services in your area.


In other parts of the UK, access to psychological therapies is usually through your GP. For more information, go to NHS Inform (Scotland), NHS Direct Wales, or NI Direct.


Wherever you live, if you’re under 18, your local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) may be able to offer you support. Ask your GP or hospital team about being referred to CAMHS.

Private therapy

You can also find trained counsellors and therapists through the Counselling Directory and British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. You will need to pay, though some therapists offer free or low-cost counselling. Look at the individual counsellors’ pages.

Work-based services

If you’re working, your employer may have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). EAPs may offer counselling or psychological therapies as part of a package of services. Ask your employer how to access your EAP.

University services

If you’re at university, you should have access to free counselling services. Go to your university’s website and search ‘student counselling’.

Other charities

CLIC Sargent provides social and community workers in many specialist TYA (teenagers and young adults) treatment units around the country.


Shine Cancer Support helps people in their 20s, 30s and 40s to meet locally for social events. Shine Plus Ones is an online group for family and friends to share experiences and support each other.


Teenage Cancer Trust provides opportunities for young people aged 13 to 24 with or after cancer to meet others in similar situations.


Young Minds offers information and urgent help for young people with emotional or mental health symptoms and offers a helpline for parents.