Coping

It can be difficult coping with a diagnosis of cancer. At first, you are likely to feel very upset, frightened and confused. You may wonder how you will cope with practical and emotional worries. 

It is very important to get the right information about your type of thyroid cancer and how it is best treated. It is easier to make decisions and cope when you are well informed about your illness and treatment.

Coping physically

Thyroid cancer and its treatment may cause physical changes in your body. These changes can be due to the effects of your treatment and may be very difficult to cope with. They could be short or long term and may cause you to feel different about yourself. You may find that your self esteem and the way you relate to other people changes.

A healthy diet and regular physical activity can help. If you have particular exercises to follow, try to make sure you remember to do them. They will help to reduce scarring and swelling.

You may feel tired and lethargic when your treatment has finished. This usually gets better with time. It can help to plan activities and take lots of rest.

Coping practically

You and your family might need to cope with practical things including:

  • 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.

Our coping practically section has more information about all these issues. 

Coping emotionally

A diagnosis and treatment for cancer sometimes causes a lot of emotions. You may feel angry, sad or anxious. It can be difficult to talk about how you feel.

Talking to your friends and relatives about your cancer can help and support you. It can strain relationships if your family or friends don't want to talk. They might worry that they will upset you. 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. Ask your healthcare team or GP if there are any psychological services available in your area.

Helping yourself

Information about your type of cancer and its treatment helps you to know what to expect. It also helps you to cope and make decisions.

Taking in information about treatment and the future can be difficult. Make a list of questions before you see your doctor. Take someone with you to remind you what you want to ask and to help you 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.

Cancer Research UK have a team of cancer information nurses you can call for support and information. Their freephone number is 0808 800 4040, open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

There are also thyroid cancer organisations you can contact.

Relationships and sex

The physical and emotional changes you have might affect your relationships and sex life. There are things that you can do to manage this.

Last reviewed: 
02 Jun 2021
Next review due: 
03 Jun 2024
  • The Cancer Survivor's Companion

    Dr F Goohart and L Atkins

    Piatkus 2011

  • The Royal Marsden Manual of Clinical and Cancer Nursing Procedures

    S.Lister and others.   Chapter 5.

    Wiley-Blackwell 2020

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