Living with cancer blog

Anger and cancer — what to do with the difficult emotions

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. June 1, 2013

I've seen anger plenty of times in my work with cancer patients — and it seems so many people feel guilty for feeling angry, or they just simply don't know what to do about it.

Anger is a normal emotion to experience as you're dealing with the diagnosis, treatment and life after treatment. Cancer is a big interruption in life — an unexpected and unwelcome interruption for everyone.

The emotions you experience are also unexpected — shock, guilt, anger, fear, sadness and depression can all be part of the roller coaster ride of emotions you feel on a daily basis.

One of the hardest to deal with is anger. If you're normally not someone who is angry, you may not what to do about it. Your family and friends may not know how to react when anger comes out either — this just makes everything more complicated.

Sometimes anger shows more naturally as an emotion with a young cancer survivor. As a young person dealing with a diagnosis of cancer, the life interruption seems so very unfair and unexpected for sure.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Feeling anger during this time is normal — don't stifle the emotion. It's better to recognize and express your emotions than to keep them inside.
  • Take the powerful energy of anger and direct it to something positive, active and creative — such as writing, exercising, golfing, painting, knitting, etc. Think of ways to get the anger out and direct it to another activity.
  • Explain to your family and loved ones that you're feeling angry — let them know that it's not something they did or caused — but that you need to find a way to channel it. They may have some ideas for you as well.
  • When anger shows up in your daily life have a coping mechanism ready to deal with it — this might include writing down the words you're feeling, using your peer support groups and blogging to get your emotions out.

The Living with Cancer blog is open to your expressions of anger — feel free to let the words flow. You'll find much support from each other here.

Follow me on Twitter @SherylNess1. Join the discussion at #livingwithcancer.

With

Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

Follow on Twitter: @SherylNess1

Jun. 01, 2013