Shock and denial: coping with lung cancers

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Shock and denial: coping with lung cancersFind out what to do, who can help and how to cope with the diagnosis of lung cancer.

Your feelings

You may have different feelings when you are told to have cancer. You may be surprised and upset. You may also feel:

  • Numb
  • Fear and uncertain
  • Confused
  • Angry and upset
  • Sinful

You may have some or all of these feelings. Or you may feel completely different. Everyone reacts in his or her own way. Sometimes it is difficult to assume that you have cancer at all.

Shock and denial

How to overcome your shock and rejection feelings and how your family and friends feel.


Shock is often the first reaction when you are told to have cancer. You might:

  1. Feel numb
  2. Do not believe what happened
  3. Do not be able to express any emotion
  4. Find out that you can only take a small amount of information
  5. They need to repeat the same information
  6. The need to repeat information is a common reaction to shock. You cannot just pick something up at first.

Your distrust can be so strong that it makes it hard to talk about your illness with your family and friends. Or you may feel the need to talk over and over again to help the news sink into it.


You can deal with news about cancer diagnoses by pretending that it does not to happen. It cannot be a conscious decision, but it is a gut reaction.

You may feel unable to think about it and find out:

  1. They do not want to know anything about cancer or its treatment
  2. I prefer to talk about it as little as possible or not at all
  3. This is another natural reaction.
  4. You can tell people around you that for now you do not want to talk about your illness if you feel that way.


Total denial

In extreme cases, denial may be of no use. Some people deny their cancer so strongly that they are sure that they are not sick at all, or that their illness is not cancer.

You may need professional help from a psychologist or consultant if this reaction begins to take you to your way of care or even worse the overall situation.

Others people are in denial

Sometimes denial happens in other ways. You may need to talk about your cancer, but your family and friends may be the ones who are in denial. Your friends and family can:

  1. Try to deny the fact that you are ill
  2. They seem to ignore the fact that you have cancer
  3. Get rid of your anxiety and symptoms
  4. Change the topic intentionally

People can react like this because they are afraid of the cancer itself. They can be embarrassed by talking. Or they may fear someone who loves has a dangerous condition to live. If they do not speak, they can try to pretend it did not happen.

But if you want their support, and to share your feelings with them, this behavior can hurt or overwhelm you. If you feel this way, try to:

  1. Tell them how you feel
  2. Make sure you know what’s going on
  3. Explain that this will help you talk to them about your illness
  4. Talk about your cancer
  5. Talking about your situation can really help.

Feelings are a natural part of coming to agree with cancer. Talk to a consultant if you want to share feelings with someone when you do not feel you can talk to your friends and family. All kinds of feelings tend to come and go. Counseling can help you overcome the difficulties you will face better. It can help reduce stress and improve the quality of your life.

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