Hearing that cancer is incurable can be incredibly difficult. You may find it hard to think clearly, or may be in shock, even if you were aware that the cancer was progressing.
Some people live with the knowledge that the cancer is incurable for a long time. This might mean having lots of different treatments to control it, and during this time they carry on with their day-to-day lives, spending time doing things that they love. Some people make a conscious choice and decide they no longer want to continue active treatment. Some people might become too unwell to continue treatment, or it might not be possible to control the cancer any longer. In these cases, your medical team will focus on making you as comfortable as possible and treating any painful or distressing symptoms.
You might find that talking openly and honestly to others about your diagnosis can help you to come to terms with what’s happening. This may be with family and friends or you may need a bit more support from a professional support service.
You might find that the cancer, your treatment and medication have reduced your appetite or changed the way things taste and the foods that you want to eat. This is totally normal. If you’re experiencing these kinds of side effects, you may want to:
Try eating small, frequent meals and snacks rather than three large meals each day
If you’re feeling sick or vomiting you may also find cold foods help to reduce cooking smells and therefore help to limit nausea
Suck on a boiled sweet or drinking fizzy drinks such as lemonade can also help, as can eating slowly and sitting in an upright position
Try drinking nourishing drinks such as fruit smoothies and milkshakes to help you maintain your weight
Try eating liquid or soft foods, such as soup and jelly, as they can often be easiest to eat when food isn't appealing
Macmillan has information about eating a healthy diet
Keeping active can help you feel more in control of your body. It can also help you cope with some of the effects of being unwell, such as fatigue and pain, and improve your emotional wellbeing too.
You may have worries about increasing your level of activity but even small amounts can be helpful. Gentle movement, such as yoga, walking or gardening, can help to ease you back into physical activity and can also help your mind. There will be days when you have more energy than others so be kind to yourself and find a pace that you’re comfortable with. Your clinical nurse specialist (CNS) or GP can talk to you about how to exercise safely and may be able to recommend exercises that you can do at home. They can also refer you to other health professionals for further support. This may be a physiotherapist (someone who’s specially trained to help people affected by illness through movement and exercise). Or it may be a cancer exercise specialist (a training instructor who has had extra training in supporting people with cancer).