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Emotional Responses To Cancer

Southeast Radiation Oncology Center - Thursday, January 26, 2017

Anger As an Effect of Cancer

There are innumerable upbeat advertisements and commercials bombarding us daily depicting happy cancer patients surrounded by doting supporters. While every cancer patient’s experience is different, many feel a range of emotions such as frustration, fear and anger at different points in their journey. Patients may feel anger and frustration toward the cancer, their healthcare providers, and healthy friends and loved ones. For those who are religious, the anger can even be directed at God.

Feeling Angry is Not Uncommon

Anger is often one of the first emotional reactions a person has to a cancer diagnosis. However, many cancer patients who feel angry don’t know what to do about the feelings they’re having and may even feel guilty about how they feel. When a person with cancer does express anger that’s directed at the diagnosis, life interruption, or fear of the unknown, family and friends often don’t know how to react, further complicating the situation.

Life With Cancer is Disruptive for Every Patient

Every cancer patient knows how very disruptive the diagnosis can be. Patients often feel as if life has been turned upside down; not knowing what lies ahead can be extremely frustrating, frightening and confusing. So what can be done about feeling angry? Here are a few things that can help.

Acknowledge That Anger is Normal: Anger is a common coping mechanism for dealing with any type of a crisis including a cancer diagnosis. Instead of hiding your anger or directing it at the wrong people for the wrong reasons, acknowledge that feeling angry is a normal part of the process. Find a way to voice your anger in a more constructive setting, such as with a therapist or in a support group.

Be Open: When feeling angry, instead of trying to suppress your feelings, let your loved ones know how you’re feeling. Explain that your anger is not something they did or caused. Explain that you simply need to find a way to channel your angry feelings. They may have some ideas that can help.

Have a Coping Mechanism Ready: It can be very helpful to have a coping mechanism to turn to when anger shows up in your daily life. This could be something as simple as writing down how you feel, using a peer support group, or picking up the phone and talking to a close friend.

Direct the Negative Energy into Something Positive: When feeling angry, take that energy and use it toward something positive, such as writing, crafting or exercising. Try to come up with something that helps get the anger out so you don’t have to live with pent-up negative feelings.

To conclude, feeling angry when you have cancer is completely understandable and perfectly normal. While it’s okay to feel angry, it’s what you decide to do with that anger that really matters. Instead of letting it eat away at you by keeping it inside, allow yourself to feel the emotion of anger and find ways to use it constructively.

At Southeast Radiation Oncology Center, we know that cancer patients are best served by being treated in close proximity to a support network of family and friends. We offer patients in Southeast Alaska the ability to receive state-of-the-art radiation therapy without the burden of traveling great distances away from home.The information presented on this website is provided to allow our patients to gain more knowledge about our center, our staff, and our services.