Coming to terms with the changes caused by a diagnosis of nasal and paranasal sinus cancer and its treatment can be hard. But there are people who can support you and things you can do to help you cope.

Your feelings

You may have several different feelings when you are told you have cancer. You may feel shocked and upset. You might also feel:

  • numb
  • frightened and uncertain
  • confused
  • angry and resentful
  • guilty

You may feel some or all these feelings. Or you may feel totally different. Everyone reacts in their own way. Sometimes it's hard to take in the fact that you have cancer at all.

Feelings are a natural part of coming to terms with cancer. All sorts of feelings are likely to come and go.

On top of this, you may also be trying to quit smoking. Smoking during treatment such as radiotherapy may mean the treatment doesn't work as well and you may have more side effects. Stopping smoking also reduces your risk of developing another cancer and improves your general health.

Stopping smoking can be extremely difficult especially if you have smoked for many years. Try not to give yourself a hard time by putting too much pressure on yourself. The important thing is that you keep trying if you have failed. Focus on the benefits of giving up. Your doctors and nurses will help you to get the support you need to stop smoking.

Helping yourself

You may be more able to cope and make decisions if you have information about your type of cancer and its treatment. Information helps you to know what to expect.

Taking in information can be difficult, especially when you have just been diagnosed. 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.

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 if 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. We have cancer information nurses you can call on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Or you may prefer to see a counsellor.

Physical changes

Nasal or sinus cancer and its treatment might cause physical changes to your face and neck. These changes can be very difficult to cope with. They can affect your self esteem and the way you relate to other people, especially close family and friends. 

If you are having a sexual relationship, the changes might affect your sex life. 

You might feel very tired and lethargic a lot of the time, especially during and for a while after treatment or if the cancer is advanced.

Depending on the type of cancer and the treatment, you might have changes to the way that you breathe, eat or drink, or speak.

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