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Coping with a rare cancer

It can be hard to cope with cancer and its treatment. This can be especially difficult if you have a rare cancer or a rare type of leukaemia or lymphoma.

Coping with your diagnosis

You are likely to feel upset, frightened and confused. A lot of people with rare cancers say they feel isolated as well.

It can be more difficult to find information about rare cancers. And it might be difficult to find other people who have the same type of rare cancer as you.

Talking to other people going through something similar can be helpful. It can be useful even if they don’t have exactly the same cancer type. 

You might need to work out who your are going to tell that you have cancer and what you are going to say. You might also have children to think about. 

Coping physically

Cancer and its treatment can cause physical changes in your body.

These changes can be very difficult to cope with and could affect how you feel about yourself. They can affect your self esteem and the way you relate to other people, especially close family and friends.

Your diagnosis and its treatment might affect your sexuality and sex life. Don't be afraid to discuss any problems with your specialist nurse or doctor.

They might be able to suggest treatments that can help, or ways to adjust to changes in your sex life. Also talking to your partner, if you have one, can help you come to terms with any changes.

Tiredness and lacking energy (fatigue) is very a common problem in people with cancer. This could be due to your treatment and the cancer itself. It can have a big impact your daily life.

Coping practically

A diagnosis of cancer is likely to cause some practical problems. This could include money issues. You might need financial support including sick pay, benefits and grants.

Try to remember that you don’t have to sort everything out at once. It usually feels more manageable to deal with one thing at a time. You can ask for help if you need it.

Your doctor or specialist nurse can put you in touch with people specially trained in supporting people with cancer. They are there for you so use them if you need to.

Resources and support

There are different charities and organsations that can provide information and support. These include specific rare cancer organsations.

Last reviewed: 
29 Sep 2017
  • Living with and Beyond Cancer. Taking action to improve outcomes 
    National Cancer Survivorship Initiative (NCSI), 2013

  • The Cancer Survivor's Companion. Practical ways to cope with your feelings after cancer 
    F. Goodhart and L. Atkins
    Piatkus, 2011

Information and help

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About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.