Cancer Counselling

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Who are we?

We offer counselling to individuals who have been diagnosed with any form of cancer or are at any stage of treatment for cancer. Counselling enables the client to explore how their current problems are affecting them and what issues may need to be addressed.

We also provide counselling to carers and family members of people who are living with cancer.

Aims

To improve mental health and emotional wellbeing for adults with cancer and their carers

To reduce mental and emotional distress experienced by clients

To increase acceptance of illness by the client

To increase the range of coping strategies available to the client

To increase the level of support available to clients

To increase the accessibility and timeliness of services

To ensure clients receive appropriate services

How Do I Refer?

  • If you would like to access counselling and want to make a referral, please first contact the Cancer Patient Support Centre:
    By phone 0191 5410122
    By email macmillan.information@chsft.nhs.uk
  • We also accepted referrals to the Cancer Patient Support Centre from staff working within Sunderland Royal Hospital. All referrals must be made with a person’s knowledge and explicit consent.

Cancer Patient Support Centre

The Cancer Patient Support Centre is based at the Sunderland Royal Hospital and provides a range of support and information for patients and carers impacted by cancer. Support includes:

  • Internet access to find appropriate resources
  • Access to a private room where you can speak to someone in confidence
  • Counselling
  • Access to financial help
  • Home visits
  • Complementary therapy
  • Referrals to the Stop Smoking Team
  • Befriending service

More information about the Cancer Patient Support Centre can be found here: https://www.stsft.nhs.uk/services/cancer-patient-support-centre

Location

We have different options for where your counselling can take place. This can either be in a comfortable counselling room at the Cancer Patient Support Centre at the Sunderland Royal Hospital, or if you would prefer to have your counselling outside of the hospital environment, we also offer counselling at our main centre in John Street, Sunderland.

Common Feelings After Diagnosis

Shock and denial - When you first seek help from your GP to investigate symptoms, it can be an anxious time.
Once you have been assessed by a specialist, the wait for a diagnosis and all the fears that may come with it, can feel especially difficult. On being diagnosed with cancer, it is common to feel shocked and numb – feeling unable to really take in what you have been told or make sense of it. This may involve being unable to believe what you are being told, thinking maybe it isn’t real or denying what you are hearing. Or you may feel overwhelmed by details, or perhaps you need a further explanation. Many questions will come to you as you adjust to your diagnosis, but right now things are likely to feel hard to make sense of. Any feelings are acceptable – there is no ‘normal’ way to feel or behave.

Fear and anxiety - Being diagnosed with cancer is often one of our biggest fears. It is normal to worry about the very worst-case scenario – the future, survival, treatments, and their unpleasant side-effects, loved ones and its impact on their lives too. It’s not uncommon to feel panicky when facing the impact diagnosis brings as you imagine how your life will change. It may help to ask for information or find out what you can to help alleviate some of these fears.

Feeling afraid may feel overwhelming so try and talk to those around you or in contact with you – all feelings are allowed and being able to express these can help you feel less alone with your fears. Cancer may leave you feeling you are no longer in control of your life – try and do things you are in control of and that help you feel you are still present and have a voice and are still you.

Feeling sad, depressed or angry - A cancer diagnosis often means changes – things get put on hold because of treatment and this may be over a long time. Long-term plans with family and those close to you may no longer be an option. Life can feel full of worry and uncertainty.

The things you love in life may feel further away due to a new and unwelcome routine. It can feel very unfair and devastating to suddenly have cancer in your life, and feeling tearful, angry or scared are all very much normal ways to feel.

Such feelings may vary from day to day and again this is expected and allowed. Allow others to help you voice how you feel and know that it is okay to do so. Try not to keep your fears and sadness to yourself, as this may further feelings of depression if you isolate away from others. Ask for others and tell them what you need from them. Tell your GP if you find coping too difficult.

It is very much understandable to feel very angry with being diagnosed with cancer – it can sometimes feel like a bit of a lottery as cancer can hit anyone of any age or character. It can feel very unfair and cruel when cancer comes. You may feel inconsolable and angry. It is natural to feel this way and absolutely okay to feel upset.

Denial and not wanting to face it - The shock of a cancer diagnosis can feel too much to deal with. It may simply be too frightening to take in, and easier to pretend things are as normal and that it’s not really happening.

You may choose to avoid thinking about cancer and telling those around you to stop talking about it or asking if you are okay. It is a lot to take in. With time you may feel more able to discuss it. You may want to live your life as normally as possible even whilst living with cancer or going through treatment.

Guilt and blame - For some people, being told they have cancer can trigger feelings of guilt. It may be regretting the way you have lived your life or the choices you have made. A cancer diagnosis can have a profound impact, making you rethink how you are living and what changes you want to make looking ahead, as well as the need to ensure we are still around for family and loved ones.

Feeling to blame or criticising yourself however is not helpful – cancer can be a devastating disease and it can impact anyone. It may mean planning a different future together with those close to you and lead to reflection on what’s important to you now going ahead.

Feeling lonely - The blow of being diagnosed with cancer can hit very hard. The world around you may be carrying on as usual, whereas you are left feeling scared and very alone. Those close to us may be very supportive, but it may feel hard to talk to them openly about your fears.

Or you may be wary of being a burden to those who are also reeling from news of your diagnosis and feel you must protect them from further upset. If family or those close to you are very much wanting to help you, try and allow them to do so but only if it feels the right time for you. It may enable others to also adjust to what has happened and become easier after the initial shock.

If you are feeling any of the above and want to speak to someone about counselling, please call 0191 5410122

Other Support Services

There are some helpful and supportive organisations able to bring other cancer sufferers and their families together – it may be through coffee mornings, group therapy or simply being able to talk on the phone to someone.

Contact with such groups via videolink or phone is particularly important during the current Coronavirus social lockdown.

Suffering in silence is rarely beneficial as it can sometimes lead to your low mood moving into depression. If this happens, you need to contact your GP – all health is important and that includes your mental and emotional health.

Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00

Local support groups: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancer-information-and-support/get-help/emotional-help/local-support-groups

Online community support: https://community.macmillan.org.uk/