A cancer diagnosis can have a profound effect on feelings, roles and relationships, finances, and mental and physical health. Cancer can be a truly life-altering experience that leads people to see their priorities in new ways. This new way of seeing life can bring about positive changes but can also be disruptive and painful. It is common for people with cancer to feel distressed, anxious and sad.
The strain of coping with cancer diagnosis and treatment may be compounded by other life stressors, such as family dynamics, financial issues and professional challenges. Unmanaged stress can have a negative effect on health, including:
- increased blood pressure
- more rapid heart rate
- decreased digestion
- increased muscle tension
- higher levels of stress hormones like adrenaline that can impair immune function
For cancer survivors, returning to work may bring mixed emotions – relief that life is back to “normal,” fear and anxiety about how colleagues will relate to them or uncertainty about how they will manage their responsibilities or their feelings at work.