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Radiation Therapy and You: Support for People With Cancer

  • Posted: 04/20/2007

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Your Feelings During Radiation Therapy

At some point during radiation therapy, you may feel:

  • Anxious
  • Depressed
  • Afraid
  • Angry
  • Frustrated
  • Helpless
  • Alone

It is normal to have these kinds of feelings. Living with cancer and going through treatment is stressful. You may also feel fatigue, which can make it harder to cope with these feelings.

How can I cope with my feelings during radiation therapy?


There are many things you can do to cope with your feelings during treatment. Here are some things that have worked for other people:
  • Relax and meditate. You might try thinking of yourself in a favorite place, breathing slowly while paying attention to each breath, or listening to soothing music. These kinds of activities can help you feel calmer and less stressed.
  • Exercise. Many people find that light exercise (such as walking, biking, yoga, or water aerobics) helps them feel better. Talk with your doctor or nurse about types of exercise that you can do.
  • Talk with others. Talk about your feelings with someone you trust. You may choose a close friend, family member, chaplain, nurse, social worker, or psychologist. You may also find it helpful to talk to someone else who is going through radiation therapy.
  • Join a support group. Cancer support groups are meetings for people with cancer. These groups allow you to meet others facing the same problems. You will have a chance to talk about your feelings and listen to other people talk about theirs. You can learn how others cope with cancer, radiation therapy, and side effects. Your doctor, nurse, or social worker can tell you about support groups near where you live. Some support groups also meet over the Internet, which can be helpful if you cannot travel or find a meeting in your area.
  • Talk to your doctor or nurse about things that worry or upset you. You may want to ask about seeing a counselor. Your doctor may also suggest that you take medicine if you find it very hard to cope with these feelings.
Ways to Learn More

To learn more about ways to cope with your feelings, read Taking Time: Support for People With Cancer, a book from the National Cancer Institute. You can get a free copy at https://pubs.cancer.gov/ncipl or 1-800-4-CANCER.

National Cancer Institute- Cancer Information Service

Toll-free::
1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237)
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Cancer Care, Inc.
Toll-free:
1-800-813-HOPE (1-800-813-4673)
E-mail:
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Offers free support, information, financial assistance, and practical help to people with cancer and their loved ones.
The Wellness Community
Toll-free:
1-888-793-WELL (1-888-793-9355)
Phone:
202-659-9709
Online:
E-mail:
Provides free psychological and emotional support to people with cancer and their families.