Anyone who has had cancer will be familiar with the fear and uncertainty that comes with diagnosis. Knowing the disease has progressed may increase the concerns about what the future holds for you and your family.

You may be worried about how an ongoing illness will affect your relationships with the people around you, how your family will cope, how you will deal with treatment side-effects or, ultimately, how you will face death.

These are normal thoughts and feelings. It is important to keep tabs on these emotions, and if the anxiety is leading to panic or paralysing your everyday life, it is time to seek help. After all, the last thing you want is for anxiety to dilute the quality of life you and those around you deserve.

What may help

Talk to your Doctor

Anxiety often stems from the unknown. Perhaps your doctor or nurse can put your mind at ease with answers to some of your questions. Failing that, they may be able to refer you to a mental health specialist to further explore with you what is making you anxious. Use the emotional assessment guide to further discuss anxiety with your doctor.

Talk with others

Some people with advanced cancer find understanding and support from others in the same situation. They can “vent” to each other, share ideas, or even talk about anything other than cancer.

The Cancer Council can tell you about support groups in your area or, through Cancer Connect (phone 13 11 20) and can put you in touch with individuals you may relate to. If you are in a rural or remote area, meetings over the internet or telephone can sometimes be organised.


Life, Hope & Reality was developed and written by Afaf Girgis, Claire Johnson, and Sylvie Lambert with funding from the NHMRC and Cancer Council NSW.

Last updated 30 August 2015