Being diagnosed with cancer definitely doesn’t mean you have to give up the things you love or stop seeing people. In fact, doing the things you’ve always enjoyed can help you feel more positive – and this can even be a good time to meet new people and try new things.
Normal, everyday stuff is really important. It’s easy to forget about seeing friends or watching films or playing sport, but things like that can make a big difference to how you feel.
Sure, you might not be able to do everything you used to do. It’s probably a good idea to take a break from skydiving or clubbing until dawn, but if you’re feeling up to it physically and mentally, there’s no reason to stop hanging out with your friends, going out on your bike or doing whatever it is that makes you happy.
The most important thing is to ask what’s right for you. You don’t want to do anything that could affect your treatment, but you shouldn’t feel like you need to hide away from the world either – and you won’t know what you can do unless you ask.
Lots of people feel nervous about going out during cancer treatment. It’s only natural, especially if you’ve been in hospital for a while or you’re not feeling your best.
Our advice? Let people know what you’re worried about and how you’d like them to act. That way your friends and family can look out for you without overreacting or being overprotective.
It’s also often the case that you worry about going out beforehand but, when you do it, you quickly forget what you were worried about.
Funded by Teenage Cancer Trust, Youth Support Coordinators work on hospital wards, where they do everything they can to create an informal, welcoming atmosphere. YSCs are experts in organising social activities for young people, from pizza evenings to music workshops to activities and events outside of the hospital.
If there’s something you’d like to do – an existing interest or something new you want to try – let them know and they’ll do their very best to make it happen. Socials in and out of hospitals can be a great way to meet new people who have a very good idea what you’re going through.
YSCs are also great at helping you find social opportunities locally and think of ways to keep up with hobbies that aren’t as easy for you as they used to be. They love a tricky question and want you to be happy, so ask away!
Cancer can change your perspective on lots of things – including what you’re interested in. You might struggle to get excited about hobbies you used to love. You might find your interests shift to something that seems more meaningful.
It’s a very common experience, so try not to let it bother you. And if your friends share your old interests, try and let them know what’s got you fired up now while making sure you listen to what they’ve been doing too.
It’s not unusual to feel frustrated during cancer treatment. Your body might not work quite like it used to and there will probably be things you want to do but can’t. But there are unhelpful ways of dealing with anger – like taking it out on people. And there are healthy ways. Like:
Taking some deep breaths, exhaling for two seconds longer than you inhale
Finding somewhere private and shouting at the top of your lungs
Punching your pillow (it’s better than a wall)
Writing down your feelings
Turning up your music
Having a good cry
Talking to people
Learning self-help techniques online