Find out what you can do, who can help and about how to cope with a diagnosis of vulval cancer.
You are more able to cope and make decisions if you have information about your type of cancer and its treatment. Information also helps you to know what to expect.
Taking in information can be difficult at first. Make a list of questions before you see your doctor. Take someone with you to remind you what you want to ask and help remember the answers.
Ask your doctors and nurses to explain things again if you need them to.
Remember that you don’t have to sort everything out at once. It might take some time to deal with each issue. Ask for help if you need it.
Treatment causes side effects. These can be mild or more severe. Tell your doctor or nurse if you have any side effects or if they get worse. They can treat them and help you find ways of coping.
How vulval cancer can affect you physically
Cancer of the vulva and its treatment may cause physical changes in your body. These changes can be very difficult to cope with and may affect the way you feel about yourself. Such changes can affect your self esteem and the way you relate to other people, especially close family and friends.
The cancer and treatment can cause physical difficulties. Sitting down can be uncomfortable. This can make long journeys hard.
Going out socially may be difficult if you are worried about whether you will be able to sit down. If you have had a vaginal prolapse in the past, the treatment may make this seem worse or you may develop symptoms.
Another problem you may have to cope with is feeling very tired and lethargic a lot of the time, especially for a while after treatment or if the cancer is advanced.
Talking to other people
Talking to your friends and relatives about your cancer can help and support you. But some people are scared of the emotions this could bring up and won’t want to talk. They might worry that you won't be able to cope with your situation.
It can strain relationships if your family or friends don't want to talk. But talking can help increase trust and support between you and them.
Help your family and friends by letting them know you would like to talk about what’s happening and how you feel.
You might find it easier to talk to someone outside your own friends and family.
Relationships and sex
The physical changes you have might affect your relationships and sex life. There are things that you can do to manage this.
Practical things you and your family might need to cope with include:
- money matters
- financial support, such as benefits, sick pay and grants
- work issues
Talk to your doctor or specialist nurse to find out who can help. Getting early help with these things can mean that they don’t become a big issue later.