Hot Under the Collar? - How to Cope with Anger and Cancer

by GregP_WN

In the whirlwind of emotions that come with hearing you are diagnosed with cancer, anger is a common emotion. People with cancer may experience anger with their caregivers, doctors, loved ones, or with themselves.Here are 10 feelings of anger that WhatNexter’s have experienced and some of their solutions to dealing with each source of anger.

Angry Man

1. When you feel angry because your loved ones don’t “get it”...
- Cancer may feel very isolating; it is likely that your family or loved ones will not understand what you are going through. When faced with this feeling, WhatNexter’s have tried to remember that while loved ones may not understand, they are also very upset because someone they deeply love is hurting; your family and friends may be just as scared as you.

2. When you feel angry because no one will talk about the elephant in the room...
- Some people may not want to talk about cancer because it makes them uncomfortable. As a person with cancer, this can leave you feeling very frustrated. If people are avoiding the subject of your cancer then chances are they have not accepted it. WhatNexter’s have learned to address their diagnosis with their loved ones and make efforts toward accepting the cancer diagnosis together.

3. When caregivers feel angry...
- Caregivers often experience anger towards their loved one with cancer because they are frustrated or exhausted. Just like the person with cancer, caregivers should channel their anger towards the cancer and not to their loved one. If you have are exhausted, it may help to take a break. Have someone who can fill in for a time so that you can get some rest or clear your head.

4. When you feel angry because you feel like you are being left out of the loop by your medical team...
- Some WhatNexter’s have felt like they have not been given all the information they want or need from their doctors. Be ready and willing to explain your “need to knows.” Make it clear to your team that you want to be 100% included on treatment decisions.

5. When you feel angry because you feel you are getting poor care at your place of treatment...
- Instead of taking your anger out on your doctors and nurses, it may help to step back and use your caregiver as a mediator. It is possible that they will have a more level-head when speaking to your medical team about your concerns.

6. When you feel angry at yourself...
- Anger has a way of turning inward and causing us to be angry with ourselves. If you feel you are angry at yourself, realize that you did not do anything to deserve cancer. If you are experiencing a lot of anger at yourself it may be helpful to go to counseling or a support group where you can vent about your anger.

7. When you feel angry but know that it is really fear...
- Fear is a big cause of anger. If you can pinpoint that it is really fear you are facing, use both the anger and the fear as a motivator to fight your cancer.

8. When you feel angry because you were initially misdiagnosed...
- If you have been misdiagnosed only to find out later that it was cancer, this can be very maddening. WhatNexter’s agree that it may help to let your anger go in whatever way you can. Holding onto the anger will not help you fight cancer.

9. When you feel angry because people are talking behind your back or talking down to you...
- Some WhatNexter’s have experienced people that have prematurely begun to “write them off” because they have cancer; this can lead to gossip or talking down to the person with cancer. As coping mechanisms, know that first you may have to let it go and realize that you cannot control what is going on. However, do not be afraid to walk away from a situation and simply say, “I don’t deserve this.” It may also help to direct your anger rationally and find an outlet such as going for a walk, going to the gym, connecting with people here, or venting to a confidant.

10. When you feel angry and don’t know how to get rid of it...
- One way to release your anger is to set a physical goal for yourself; often physical discipline distracts from emotional conflict. (Remember to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise plan.) One WhatNexter, BosieB, made a physical goal for herself.

“My next goal is to make it to the mountain about five blocks from my house. At the foot of the mountain there are three trails, one goes around the mountain, one goes up the mountain at a mild incline, and one goes straight up the mountain. My goal is to be able to go straight up the mountain. In August the American Cancer Society sponsors an event called the Climb to Conquer Cancer; I hope to be able to participate. Creating and meeting challenges is a good way to keep my spirits up and a great way to work off my anger.”

If you are angry or not, at the end of the day, you still have cancer. People affected with cancer are in a tough spot to find courage within themselves and their loved ones. WhatNexter fastdog said,

“Being angry because I have cancer makes me think of flooring the car’s accelerator while standing on the brake.”

Anger is a natural emotion when you are diagnosed with cancer, however indulging your anger will probably hurt you more than help you. WhatNexter’s encourage each other to find ways to release and channel their anger. Most agree that it is most important to remember that you are angry at the cancer and not the people around you that are trying to help you survive. If you put your anger towards your cancer then it might give you more fight you need to stay strong. We want to hear from you! What feelings of anger did you have when you were diagnosed with cancer? What did you do to cope with your anger?

Click here to view the original question about anger posted on WhatNext.com.

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