Coping with vaginal cancer

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.

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.

Your specialist nurse can help you if you’re finding it difficult to cope or if you have any problems. They can get you the help you need. They can also give you information.

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

Support groups

NHS website has a service that tells you about local information and support.

Physical problems

Vaginal cancer and its treatment are likely to cause some physical problems. These might affect the way you feel about yourself. It may also affect the way you relate to other people, especially close family and friends.

Tiredness

Tiredness (fatigue) and lethargy can be a problem during and after cancer treatment. Resting but also doing some gentle physical activity can help. Fatigue can also be an issue with advanced cancer.

Early menopause

Some women with vaginal cancer may have their ovaries removed as part of their operation to remove the cancer. In younger women, this brings on an early menopause. Symptoms include hot flushes and sweats. Your nurse will talk to you about how to cope with symptoms.

Your relationships and sex life

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

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.

Last reviewed: 
30 Mar 2021
Next review due: 
30 Mar 2024
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