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Coping with a diagnosis of oesophageal cancer

It can be very difficult coping with a diagnosis of cancer, both practically and emotionally. You are likely to be feeling very upset and confused. As well as coping with the fear and anxiety that a diagnosis of cancer brings, you have to work out how to manage practically. The coping with cancer section contains lots of information you may find helpful. There are sections about

  • Your feelings
  • Talking to people: who and what to tell
  • Talking to children
  • How you can help yourself
  • Who else can help you
  • Financial support

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the living with oesophageal cancer section.

 

 

Coping with your diagnosis

It can be very difficult coping with a diagnosis of oesophageal cancer, both practically and emotionally. At first, you are likely to feel very upset, frightened and confused. You may feel that things are out of your control. It is very important to get the right information about your type of cancer and how it is best treated. People who are well informed about their illness and treatment are more able to make decisions and cope with what happens. It can be difficult to take in all the information at first, so ask your doctors and nurses to explain things again if necessary.

If your cancer cannot be cured, there are added stresses. You will have specialist support, with the aim of keeping you as well as possible. The community cancer nurses will help support you at home. They can help with controlling your symptoms, offer practical advice and allow you to talk over some of the issues that you and your family are facing.

It is common for people with cancer to have counselling, to help talk through how you are feeling. Counselling can help you to cope better with the difficulties you face, during and after your cancer diagnosis and treatment. It can help to reduce stress and improve your quality of life. We have information about counselling in the section about coping emotionally.

 

How oesophageal cancer can affect you physically

Oesophageal cancer and its treatment are likely to cause physical changes in your body. These changes can be very difficult to cope with and may affect the way you feel about yourself. Changes such as weight loss and hair loss can affect your self esteem and the way you relate to other people, especially close family and friends.

Another problem you may have to cope with is feeling very tired and lethargic a lot of the time, especially during and for a while after treatment or if the cancer is advanced. There is information about fatigue and cancer and treating cancer fatigue in the section about coping physically with cancer

Oesophageal cancer can make it more difficult for you to eat and swallow, especially if you have surgery. There is information about diet and oesophageal cancer in this section.

If you are having a sexual relationship, one or all of these changes may affect your sex life. There is information about how cancer can affect your sex life in the coping with cancer section.

 

Coping practically with oesophageal cancer

As well as coping with the fear and anxiety that a diagnosis of cancer brings, you and your family may also have to work out how to manage practically. There may be money matters to sort out. You may need information about financial support, such as benefits, sick pay and grants. Some people are keen to continue working if they can. Your doctors and nurses can help advise you on how best to approach this. Your partner or other family members may need advice on how to manage work, childcare and other commitments around your illness and treatment.

Who do you tell that you have cancer? And how do you find the words? You may also have children to think about. We have information about talking to people about your cancer and how and what to tell children.

Just try to remember that you do not have to sort everything out at once. It may take some time to deal with each issue. Do ask for help if you need it though. It is likely that your doctor or specialist nurse will know who you can contact to get some help - they can put you in touch with people specially trained in supporting those with cancer. These people are there to help and want you to feel that you have support. So use them if you feel you need to.

 

More information on coping with oesophageal cancer

The coping with cancer section has lots of helpful information. There are sections about

If you would like more detailed information about coping with oesophageal cancer, contact one of the oesophageal cancer organisations. They often have free factsheets and booklets they can send to you. They may also be able to put you in touch with a support group. There is also an oesophageal cancer reading list.

You can also contact our cancer information nurses. They would be happy to help.

You can find details of counselling organisations that can tell you more about counselling and help you find sources of emotional support in your area.

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Updated: 26 April 2014