Worried Sick

I’ve been reading ‘Worried Sick: The emotional impact of cancer’ a research report commissioned by Macmillan Cancer Support. The report investigates the impact of cancer on patients and their carers, it’s not comforting reading. Even though cancer survival rates are rising and people can expect to live longer, the emotional impact of the disease is immense.

The research found that:

  • 45% of cancer patients say that coping with the emotional aspects of cancer is the most difficult.
  • 75% of people with cancer experience anxiety.
  • 49% of people with cancer experience depression.

These impacts aren’t restricted to the cancer patient themselves but extends to family, friends and relationships.


  • 26% experience difficulties.
  • 25% break up
  • 32% are put under enormous strain.


  • 24% feel abandoned.
  • 67% experience anxiety
  • 42% experience depression

What could be done? Huge amounts of time and money are being investigated in finding treatments for cancer. I think there are things that could be done. The problem with cancer (apart from the obvious) is that you not only get the illness you get everything that goes with it and all your responses to that. It’s very unlikely that anyone will respond to a diagnosis of cancer with complete equanimity. Anxiety and stress are almost inevitable. Unfortunately being in a highly stressed state is unlikely to promote your healing.

Fortunately there are many techniques from EFT, NLP and others that could help to relieve those levels of stress and anxiety. For example:

  • Relieving the trauma of the diagnosis.
  • Teaching a simple technique to reduce anxiety, the physical sensations of anxiety and the thoughts and ideas that cause it.
  • Reducing fear and installing a realistic optimism.
  • Promoting relaxation and the best state for healing to take place.
  • Eliminating unhelpful beliefs and self-defeating behaviours
  • Resolving fears and phobias about aspects of the medical treatment, needles, scanners, radiography machines etc.
  • Taking more control over your emotional responses to the situation.

Many of the techniques for accomplishing these outcomes can be taught to patients and carers. It would be a self care kit that they could use whenever they like.

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