You might have a number of different feelings when you're told you have non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). You may feel shocked and upset. You might also feel:

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

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

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

Coping physically

NHL and its treatment might cause physical changes in your body. These changes can be very difficult to cope with and can affect the way you feel about yourself. They can affect your self esteem and the way you relate to other people, especially close family and friends.

You might also have to cope with feeling very tired and lethargic a lot of the time, especially for a while after treatment, or if your NHL is advanced.

If you are having a sexual relationship, one or all of these changes may affect your sex life. 

Some of the treatments for NHL can cause an early menopause in some women, which means you can no longer have children. Some men also find that they are infertile after treatment. This can be very difficult to cope with.

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. But some people are scared of the emotions this could bring up. 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. 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. Many people find counselling helpful.

CLIC Sargent can offer help and support for parents who have a child recently diagnosed or living with childhood cancer. They can also help you access financial support.

For support and information, you can call the Cancer Research UK information nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. They can give advice about who can help you and what kind of support is available.

Coping practically

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
  • childcare

Talk to your doctor or specialist nurse to find out who can help. Getting help early with these things can mean that they don’t become a big issue later.

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