All these sections have been
taken from the
Most of this information relates to the
United Kingdom but there will be more information on what happens in
France as it is gathered.
Coping with advanced cancer
This section has been written to help people who have been told
their cancer has spread or come back. It is also for your relatives
and friends. It outlines common concerns and problems and advises on
how to cope with them. You may have been told it is not possible to
cure your cancer. No-one can predict for certain what will be the
outcome of any persons illness. It may be possible, although it is
rare, for an advanced cancer to be cured. Treatment can be given
which will help to control the cancer and prolong life, perhaps for
a number of years. In other cases it may not be possible to treat
the cancer itself. However, treatment can be given to control
symptoms, for example pain.
These sections discuss the concerns that
people with advanced cancer can often have. There is discussion
about the many varied emotional issues and feelings that you may
face at this time. There is also information about practical
concerns, such as the support that may be available to you. We hope
that this information will help you to be able to live with your
cancer in the way that is best for you. Not all the information will
apply to you, and you may find the information includes things that
do not affect you or that you do not want to read about. Throughout
this section you will find quotations from people who have advanced
wishes to thank all those people who have shared their feelings and
experiences with us.
Caring for someone with advanced cancer
This information has been written for anyone who is caring for a
person who is very ill with advanced cancer. The partner, relative
or friend you are looking after may have been told his or her cancer
has spread or come back, or perhaps that the cancer cannot be cured.
You may still be trying to come to terms with this, longing to show
how much you care and trying to plan how best to look after them and
make them comfortable. You may be worried that you won't have the
physical or emotional strength to cope. You may not know where to
turn for the practical help which could make life at home easier.
You may be feeling overwhelmed by a number of strong emotions at a
time when you feel you need to be clear-headed. You may be fearful
of what may happen. You may also meet practical difficulties in
getting the support you need.
Everyone's situation is different, and
everyone has different ways of coping. Some people find they need to
talk through their feelings and fears before they can begin to make
plans and take decisions on practical matters. Others manage better
by beginning with the practical things.
Feelings and how to cope with them
The value of talking
`It's taken us a long time to get there but nowadays we can really
talk about what's going to happen and how we feel about it.
Sometimes we don't need to say anything. We can just sit there
together holding hands. It's very comforting somehow.'
Many carers find looking after someone who
is important to them very rewarding and fulfilling. Some people find
that coming to terms with advanced cancer together brings them
closer to each other than ever before. You may find that you are
able really to talk to each other for the first time. Sharing your
feelings openly and honestly will help support you both through your
anxieties, sadness, fear and uncertainty.
Many people, however, find it very difficult
to be open together in this way, especially when they are faced with
a new and stressful situation. Some carers are uncomfortable about
discussing their own feelings with the person with cancer because
they think that they will be a burden. Others can't bear to talk
about it because they don't think they'll be able to console their
friend or loved one or because they're worried about breaking down
and crying in front of them. Some people are simply not used to
talking with each other about important things like this.
There are no right or wrong ways of communicating and often just
being there, perhaps giving a hug or holding hands, is enough to
tell someone that you care. Be prepared for them to talk about their
illness if they want to. Often they won't expect you to provide
answers but just to listen and understand so they don't feel so
alone. The book "I don't know what to say" by Robert Buckman looks
at how to help and support someone who is dying.
If you both find it hard to talk about your feelings, it may be
easier to bring a third person to help you. This could be a trusted
friend, a religious leader, a counsellor or one of the health
professionals you have got to know and trust.
You may also find it helpful to suggest to the person you are caring
for that they talk to someone else -- such as a counsellor -- about
their feelings. They may have powerful, sometimes overwhelming
emotions, and may need help to talk about them and find ways of
Looking after someone full-time is not always easy or satisfying.
Many carers lie awake at night worrying about what's going to happen
in the future and how they are going to cope. Some people feel
frustrated or overburdened because the person they are caring for
can no longer share responsibility with them for running a home or
looking after a family. Nearly everyone feels angry and resentful at
some point that this has had to happen. Worst of all is feeling
guilty about having these kinds of emotions -- that in some way, if
you have negative feelings like these, it means that you don't love
the person you are caring for enough, or that you are a selfish
person. On top of all this, most carers are very tired and short of
The main thing to remember is that these kinds of feelings are
normal. You are probably going through one of the most stressful
periods of your life and you are not going to be able to control
your emotions 24 hours a day, however hard you try. What you can do,
however, is to try to accept that it's all right to have these
feelings and begin to learn to cope with them. It's not easy, but it
is important to try, both for your own sake and for the sake of the
person you are looking after. And it's also OK to ask for help in
dealing with these emotions, whether from your family and friends,
or from a counsellor or one of the health professionals you are in