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Living with Cancer

In honour of Ninon Bourque

Living with Cancer

Multiple areas of your life may be impacted by a cancer diagnosis and treatment, whether you’re the person going through the treatment, or a loved one providing care.  You may be looking for information, practical or emotional support to help you get through this experience.  Facing the reality of living with a cancer diagnosis and treatment can be daunting, but there’s no reason to have to go through it alone.  See the links below to help you navigate resource options to help you best meet your needs.

Symptom Management

Many people living with cancer struggle with the physical and emotional effects of their illness and treatment. Regardless of where you are in your cancer journey, you can sometimes need help to manage your pain, nausea, anxiety or other symptoms.

Throughout your visits to the Cancer Centre, you will be asked to complete a symptom assessment tool which will help you and your health care provider monitor changes in your symptoms. 

***Please do not hesitate to talk to your health care provider if you experience any symptoms that are concerning.***

In the Symptom Management section of this site, you will find more information to help you cope with symptoms you may be experiencing.

Nutritional Information

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Good nutrition is especially important for people with cancer.  Eating a variety of foods and well-balanced meals can help you feel better and stay stronger.  Eating well during treatment helps to maintain your body weight, improve your strength and energy, decrease the risk of infection and assist your body in healing and recovery from cancer treatments.

Unfortunately, some people may have difficulty meeting  their nutritional needs due to a loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, etc.  If you are experiencing some of these symptoms visit the Nutritional Information section of this site for useful videos.

Please do not hesitate to talk to your health care provider or oncologist if you are having difficulty eating.  A referral to the Registered Dietitian in the Psychosocial Oncology Program may be possible.

Pain Management

Having cancer does not always mean having pain.

But, if you do have pain, there are many different kinds of medicines and non-drug methods that can help.

Talk to your health care team to find ways to help you manage your pain.

In the Pain Management section, you will find more specific information on ways of dealing with your pain.

Living with Cancer

Emotional Well-Being and Counseling

People diagnosed with cancer and their loved ones can experience many different feelings during their journey through cancer.  These can include: anger, sadness, fear, feeling overwhelmed / out-of-control, feeling helpless.  These are all very common feelings around the time of diagnosis or when you are experience some changes in your condition.

It is important to realize that everyone has a different way of coping with cancer.  There is no right or wrong way to feel.  Note that it is healthy to acknowledge and talk about your feelings.

If your feelings become overwhelming, last for several weeks and/or interfere with your day-to-day life and relationships, you should speak with a health care professional.  Should you need assistance, you can visit the Emotional Well-Being and Counseling section of this site for tips on how to cope with your emotions.  Should you need to speak to someone, please contact our Psychosocial Oncology Program at 613-737-7700 ext. 70516 (General Campus) or ext. 25200 (IGFCC) or contact your physician.

Sexual Health & Body Image

Cancer and its treatment can affect your sexuality and sexual function. It can also affect your sexual partners and your relationships. For many people, sexuality is a personal subject that is hard to talk about openly, either with sexual partners or with healthcare professionals. But talking openly and honestly about sex offers you the best chance of coping with any sexual changes that cancer treatment brings.

Sexuality is a part of our everyday life, but it’s more than just the act of sex or reproduction. Sexuality includes our need for closeness, intimacy, caring and pleasure, as well as our sex drive, sexual identity and preferences.

You or your partner may even think that sex shouldn’t matter that much right now. It’s true that some people don’t think about sex while they fight cancer. But it’s important to note that sex and all the loving and caring that go with it can be life-affirming.

For more information and helpful videos, visit our Sexual Health & Body Image section or talk to your health care provider about your concerns.

Preparing for End-of-Life

Many patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers have questions about what they might expect during the last few months of life.

Each of us is encouraged to think about, talk about and tell people our wishes for the type of health care we want to receive at some point in the future. This process is called advance care planning.

In addition to having these conversations, you are encouraged to write down your wishes or instructions regarding your health care. In the past, this document was commonly called a living will. Now it is more often called an advance care plan. An advance care plan may be considered a legal document.  As part of writing these documents, you may also want to think about doing a Power of Attorney and a Will.  You can find more information in our Preparing for the end of life section of this site or visit the Speak Up website at: www.speakupontario.ca.

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Practical Resources and Finances

Life can get complicated when you are trying to cope with your cancer, treatment as well as manage your day-to-day life.

 

The Practical Support & Finances section of this website can help you find resources in regards for:

 

- Transportation & Parking

- Finances (i.e., sick leave, disability, etc.)

- Medication coverage

- Lodging

- Home Support Services

- Mastectomy Supplies and Paramedical Tattooing

 

Need help in reviewing your situation? Looking for someone to help point you in the right direction? Feel free to contact our Psychosocial Oncology Program at 613-737-7700 ext. 70516 (General Campus) or ext. 25200 (IGFCC) to request support.

        

Talking to Children about Cancer

Talking to your children about cancer can be difficult.  Just know that children often sense that something is wrong even if they are not told.  It is better to talk with your children about cancer than ignore it.

How a child reacts to a cancer diagnosis often depends on how its parents or other close adults handle the crisis. Kids learn through their parents’ behavior.

Although parents know this, they are under a great deal of stress and have their own intense feelings of fear and uncertainty. Also, if the child has known someone with cancer previously, his or her reaction may depend on the outcome of that person’s illness. If the person, they knew with cancer died then the reaction may be more severe than if the person they knew recovered. With the right kind of help, parents and their children can and do learn to cope well with cancer and its treatments.

For some tips, books and videos that might be helpful on preparing you to talk to your children, visit our Talking to your Children's page.

Need more health information

Need more health information? Send your health information questions to learningservices@toh.ca.  We will respond during the next business day.  Learning Services is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

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