Resilience for managing cancer

Cancer is a disease that can start in almost any organ or tissue of the body when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably, and/or spread to other organs. The latter process is called metastasizing and is a major cause of death from cancer. A neoplasm and malignant tumour are other common names for cancer.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, accounting for an estimated 9.6 million deaths, or one in six deaths, in 2018 (WHO). Lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer are the most common types of cancer in men, while breast, colorectal, lung, cervical and thyroid cancer are the most common among women.

People with cancer experience a whole host of issues, here are just a few...


  • Come to terms with the end of life
  • Deal with other's reactions to their condition
  • Reconcile their differences with those they have been in conflict with
  • Stop a habit or behaviour which may or may not have contributed to their ill-health e.g., smoking or being overweight.
  • Manage expectations of what's to come
  • Overcome self-limiting beliefs, self-esteem, and/or negative thinking
  • Forgive themselves or others for what's happened to them e.g., self, God, significant others
  • Organise themselves in putting their affairs in order
  • Manage the treatment regime better
  • Look after themselves better e.g., eating, exercise, relaxation methods
  • Deal with their loss of identity e.g., weight loss, hair loss, feeling unwell, dependence on others, mastectomy, ageing, disfigurement, etc
  • Manage memories/flashbacks of comforting & supporting others who have been ill with the condition
  • Putting things in perspective
  • Relinquishing control over things they can't control 
  • Gaining control over things they can control 
  • Asserting themselves with others who are taking away their control
  • Recovery during and after surgery e.g., less blood loss, scarring, relapse prevention methods, etc
  • Preparation for surgery e.g., managing fears and anxieties about the operation
  • Decision making and procrastination
  • Managing physical pains
  • Managing emotional reactions e.g., anger, depression, hopelessness, denial
  • Feeling more confident during the process of managing the condition
  • Managing behavioural problems e.g., insomnia, lethargy, avoidance 

Building resilience enables cancer sufferers to shift the way they perceive and respond to adversity and change by having robust and sustainable strategies of coping and growing. The list above illustrates that one can not simply pull out a generic pre-written script that will help with all these issues or even individual issues. What is an issue for one person with cancer is not necessarily likely to be an issue for someone else in exactly the same way.

Want to find out how I can help you improve your health and well-being and build resilience to shift how you perceive and respond to adversity and change?

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Resilience is Contagious! Catch it if you can 😃

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