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10 Tips for Cancer Patients

Updated: Dec 15, 2022

Doctor's hands on table facing cancer patient

Cancer is a small word with scary consequences.

It is overwhelming when you are first told you have cancer and you might not know how to process this information or how you are going to get through this. We have gathered top tips from people who have come before you and come out the other side.

We hope these tips will help you on your journey through this dickhead of a disease.

#1 Be understanding and patient with yourself. Cancer is a roller coaster. There is no ‘right way’ to do cancer.

Some days you might feel like you can take on the world and there is no way cancer is going to beat you and other days when you want to hide under the covers and give up. You will have good days and bad days and it is OK to let yourself rest on the bad days.

#2 You are not alone! It can be hard to ask for help, especially if you are used to being an independent person. Just remember that people want to help you. They feel helpless and accepting help can benefit you and make them feel useful. It is a win win!

#3 Accept there will be times you won’t feel like doing anything. Make sure your support knows this. Don’t pressure yourself to power on through the day if you aren’t feeling up to anything other than sitting on the sofa watching Netflix. You can plan activities with your friends and family but make sure you let them know you may have to change plans if you aren’t feeling up to it on the day.

#4 Keep active. Although we have given you permission to rest in the previous tip, more and more research has proven that exercise can greatly improve both mental and physical health during treatment. Try to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. This could be a 30 minute walk or a gentle aqua aerobics class. There will be days when you don’t feel up to it, but on the days you can exercise you know you are giving yourself the best chance of avoiding post treatment fatigue, maintaining heart and lung fitness and reducing anxiety and depression.

Consider buying a pedometer or fitness watch such as a Fitbit to track your progress.

#5 Keep informed, but not obsessed. This is a hard one as Dr Google is so tempting! Educate yourself but ensure you are accessing reputable sources online. There is a lot of misinformation around cancer online. Protect yourself from additional anxiety or dodgy ‘cures’ by only visiting reputable sites. There are many great support groups and organisations dedicated to helping people fighting cancer which can be a great resource.

#6 Take it a day at a time.

There’s so much unknown and everyone’s experience is different. Don’t worry twice! Deal with the information you have at hand and process that. Don’t add additional stress to yourself worrying about things that might happen in 2 months.

#7 Breathe! There is so much to take in and the first few weeks after diagnosis can be overwhelming. Allow yourself time to take a breath and process your diagnosis. Give yourself time and space to make decisions based on the information you have with the support of people you trust.

#8 Don’t be afraid to seek multiple opinions from medical teams. It is your body and you know it better than anyone else. Before, during and after treatment if something doesn’t feel right, you are within your right to seek out another opinion.

#9 Let go of the stupid things otherwise good people say. People WILL say stupid things. Cancer is scary and people often don’t know what to say or how to act. If they are usually a good person and have good intentions don’t hold onto the anger or hurt that comes when they say something silly. They probably didn’t mean it and your energy is much better placed healing from cancer. On the other hand, if someone is just being a dick feel free to protect yourself during this time by removing yourself from their company. #10 Focus on what is in your control. Feelings of not being in control often come with a cancer diagnosis and there is a lot you can’t control and you will have to put your trust in your medical team. However there are some things you can control. Your happiness - find joy in the everyday and treat yourself to things you enjoy. This could be a 5* holiday, a walk in a forest or a cup of tea with a friend. Diet - you can control what you put in your body. Ask for a referral to a nutritionist and nourish your body with healthy food. Don’t be afraid to have the occasional treat if that makes you happy. Exercise - As above exercise is by far and away the best complementary medicine for your cancer treatment. Keep active as much as you can whilst allowing yourself to rest and recover when necessary.

Bonus Tip! Get mental health support.

A good counsellor or psychologist is going to be worth their weight in gold during your treatment. You can ask for a referral to a professional trained in working with cancer patients.

An experienced counsellor can help you process your thoughts, let you know you aren’t alone in your feelings and are a fantastic outlet when you don’t want to vocalise something to your loved ones.

There are also many support groups available. Ask your medical team for a recommendation based on your specific cancer.

If you find yourself needing to talk to someone after reading this article you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or The Cancer Council on 13 11 20


Bring a little joy to your life

We love these books from Amazon for helping you track or navigate your cancer journey.

There is a place to track each chemo treatment (up to 15 in this book). You can document your notes from your meeting with the oncologist, the premeds given, the chemotherapy meds given, your side effects, and any other notes you want to take. There is also a section to document your scans.

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‘A wise, warm and wonderful novel … an incredibly moving, uplifting and hopeful story that looks at the power of finding your tribe. It will make you smile and love life just a little bit more’ Adele Parks, Platinum

‘Uplifting and positive, you will be cheering them along’ Prima ‘An honest read that, despite its heart-wrenching topic, will uplift and inspire you’ Heat

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There are so many cancer products out there that cater to the "brave" and "inspirational" cancer patient that you see in movies. This is not that. This guided journal is for those out there who believe humor is truly the best medicine. This is a guided journal for cancer patients with a humorous spin.

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Support Resources

Cancer Council Australia

CCA an organisation to support all Australians affected by cancer through support, research and prevention programs.

Ovarian Cancer Australia

OCA is an independent national not-for-profit organisation, supporting women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Our focus is to provide care and support for those affected by ovarian cancer; and represent them by leading change. Our vision is to save lives and ensure no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone.

Breast Cancer Network Australia

BCNA Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) is Australia’s leading breast cancer consumer organisation. We have worked tirelessly to ensure that all Australians who are affected by breast cancer receive the very best care, treatment and support.

Bowel Cancer Australia

BCA Peer-to-Peer Support Network connects patient’s and loved ones on a one-to-one buddy basis that enables members to give and receive advice about their bowel cancer experience in an informal and mutually beneficial way.

Leukaemia Foundation

LF is a support service for patients and supporters dealing with blood cancers.

*FU Cancer is supported by its audience. If you choose to purchase through the links on our site we may receive an affiliate commission. This goes towards paying our expenses plus a percentage of our monthly profit goes towards directly helping people with cancer. If you know someone who could do with a boost during their cancer treatment please let us know here.

FU Cancer is supported by its audience. If you choose to purchase through the links on our site we may receive an affiliate commission. This goes towards paying our expenses plus a percentage of our monthly profit goes towards directly helping people with cancer. If you know someone who could do with a boost during their cancer treatment please let us know here.

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