The Emotional Realities Of Cancer

Being as aware as I am of my own frailties, I do my best to plan my work so there is always a good recovery time in between. However some recent complications have meant that I need to be more frequently at hospital, unfortunately leading to a congested diary (yet again!) I have just completed some speaking presentations and personal visits, which all had incredible personal meaning to me, and in each case I was blown away by peoples stories and experience. It is only now that I have time to sit and review what I have recently experienced. Each one of these events has led to other things developing, and some extremely emotional exchanges.

I had difficulty sleeping last night, even with my regular meds, my head was replaying many of the conversations I recently had. That is what has prompted me to write this piece. I find writing a great discipline which concentrates my mind, and helps me put my sometimes random thoughts into some logical order. It forces me to sit down and focus, which I find extremely difficult to do, as I am like a butterfly constantly going from one thing to another. It also helps me make sense of things, and hopefully other people too!  My writing and presentations are all designed to stimulate communication, which of course is always very powerful on a face to face basis. After many years of doing what I do, there is little left to surprise me I thought!

Many people want to share their own experiences and opinions, and this is an incredible way to learn. Often those dialogues are continued privately via messaging or emails, which I am always delighted to do if appropriate. But with my own issues becoming more complex, I have found my recent work more difficult. This piece is not a cry for help, as this will only be temporary like most things on the cancer landscape, but more about making people aware of what can happen.

Most of the individuals I work with have their own cancer issues to deal with, but are also throwing themselves into support projects in the same way as I do. Their thought is not for themselves, but purely for helping others. Many are just beginning, with that raw energy that drives you with a new project, and I can already see the emotional energy being used. The great thing for us all is that we can forget about our disease and focus our energies in a positive way. When we are busy, temporarily we can forget that we are sick, which is always a good thing. Others too can forget or not recognise our illness, meaning things take on some sense of normality for a time. However the reality is that we do not have the same amount of emotional energy to give to projects when we are trying to deal with the side effects of cancer.

During this recent period, I have also thought more frequently about my wife and family, who support me unquestionably in everything I do. My wife has cared for me since I became sick and watched as our lives have been changed forever, many of our hopes and dreams now discarded. She sees the tough times like no one else does, and puts up with me when I am emotionally drained because of my health or work. Cancer does make you selfish unquestionably, and my health I can’t really change, but is it fair I make things worse with all the other things I do? She understands this is my passion so I do my best to ensure that my personal life is not affected too much, but undoubtedly it is difficult. I need a positive focus for myself and can be that for others, but I can see the warning signs.

Cancer sucks you in, both physically and emotionally, it is certainly a very powerful adversary! The emotional realities of cancerI have done my best to use my business experience and deal with things in a logical way allowing for my health, but still nature finds a way of holding me back. I have accepted that is the way it is, but I live with incredible frustration, knowing that I could do so much more! The impact we can have on people is tangible, we can all see it in the work we do, people smiling and knowing that there are others who totally understand what they are going through. That is why we all want to continue giving, after all there is no better feeling in the world than being able to help someone, when they need it most. We have all been helped by people and feel the need to “give something back.”

It is impossible to do this work without feeling emotion, and for me it feels the more I do it the more emotional I get. If I’m honest I didn’t think it would be like that, I felt I might develop an ‘immunity,’ but that hasn’t happened. I think my own situation has only helped me appreciate more, what other people are going through. Of course I won’t be stopping what I do, and nor will anyone else, but I have written this piece to make people aware,(if they didn’t realise it already) of the incredible toll that the emotional side of cancer can take. In many cases we don’t even realise it is happening!  

How do you deal with the emotional impact of cancer? What is your experience? I would love to hear your views as always!



  1. Hi Chris, I hope today is a good day for you. I absolutely love your article, very honest and very relatable. Cancer is a massive consumer of our health, physically and emotionally, and often its the emotional side that is the hardest to manage and process, and can be very draining, as you say, sucking the life out of you. Who needs that eh when the physical side is already doing that?! . The people you meet along the way, the people who you sit alongside treatment with, its impossible not to become emotionally attached, and like you, as much as I thought I would get used to it, I always feel their pain, deel their sadness, but also feel their joys with them. For me personally I think I feel more, it deepens my sensitivity I think to other peoples needs which I take as a positive, a reminder that we should all be here for one another and not be distracted by being too busy to help someone. I do find personally the hardest part of cancer is knowing it changes the lives of those you love and who love you, but again, I guess it can be a positive thing in that it reminds them too of the fragility of life and what is important. Is its easy ?. Absolutely not!. But does life take on a new, more person centred meaning?. For me personally yes. Hope that all makes some kind of sense Chris!. My best wishes for a happy Monday xx

  2. Hi Susan, every day in my world is a good day thank you and today is no exception, I hope Monday is treating you kindly too. Your comments make perfect sense, and you have understood exactly the points I was trying to make in the piece. I think our emotions have led us to very similar places! Like you I see life totally differently and now spend a lot of time with people. I have found only a few things that are truly important, and many things I thought were are just distractions and time fillers. I was indeed shocked at how much my recent activities had taken out of me emotionally, as I am so experienced now. That piece was designed to help others to see that side of things too, at times very underestimated! Thanks so much for sharing your own experiences, which is always helpful for others/. Have a great week, xx

  3. Your candour is inspiring, Chris. You always get to the heart of the personal impact of cancer.

  4. Thx for your comments, which are much appreciated. I try to be as honest as I can about my experiences, to encourage others to think about theirs, and hopefully understand they are not the only one experiencing those things. I do my best to encourage people to interact in whatever way suits them, but even if it just provokes a new thinking process I am happy. There are always some positives to find, but you might need to look very hard at times 🙂

  5. Great article and it really hit home, for me. The emotions that come along with cancer is something many do not talk about…especially when you are giving back,and still dealing with side effects or just the disease itself.
    Thank you and I am sharing this with my followers on FB.
    Many blessings to you

  6. Thanks so much for your comments Chris. Yes indeed the emotional side of cancer is something that can be very easily overlooked as people focus on the physical issues. It can be very difficult to ‘give back’ as effectively as you want to when dealing with your own issues.

    I’m so pleased you found the issue helpful and sharing is much valued. My very best to you, Chris

  7. When I read your blog, I find it very relatable to my situation. I have multiple sclerosis and am raising three teenagers, who are young adults now.

    You wrote, ” Cancer does make you selfish unquestionably, and my health I can’t really change, but is it fair I make things worse with all the other things I do?”

    I could say the very same thing about living with MS. I think about selfishness a lot. Hopefully, I provide my kids with a positive example, all the while having to ask for their help.

    I haven’t commented on your blog, because I don’t have cancer, even though living with MS has its similarities. I also write a blog “Where will MS take me?”

    Writing is therapeutic and it is good to have projects outside of coping with a cronic illness.

  8. Hi Rita, many thanks for sharing your thoughts. You are absolutely right and those feelings and emotions that we experience will be common for many long term health conditions, and thank you for highlighting that.

    This blog is cancer focused, although we have many readers that are not directly affected, but want to understand more. I will certainly check out your own site and look forward to welcoming you back here soon, Chris

  9. My emotional impact of cancer: great topic! I feel I am on the “other side” now, since I have had chemo followed by a single mastectomy, I feel like the worse part is over. During that time, I was wrought with fear – for about 9 months. That, coupled with all the treatments, made me an emotionally fragile person. It was suggested to me I speak to a psychiatrist, and I did; I was put on some medication for this traumatic time on my life. That has helped, and so has breaking up with my boyfriend that I was living with. We fought so much after I got diagnosed, he couldn’t handle it, and was bothered by my neediness. I took the blame, and tried to be “good” but was so afraid. I learned to lean less on him and more on my girlfriends, and people in cancer support groups. Now, I try to give back by volunteering at cancer events and blogging ( It’s a creative outlet for me, and I hope to reach other people going through cancer. Thank you for your work, Chris!

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your own personal experiences with us, so that we can all learn from each other. I’m so pleased that you feel you are on the ‘other side’ of things now. It sounds like you have learned so much and are able to now give back in a positive way for you and others.
    I hear so frequently of relationships breaking down due to a cancer diagnosis, and this is yet another unseen effect on our lives.
    Like you I have now found another path for my life, since cancer, and I have found expertise in writing and speaking that I never knew I had! For me it is about making the best of things, and it seems you are also doing that. I wish you well and please feel free if I can help promote your blog etc. Tu!

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